The deportation of a Fairfield mother of four was among the topics U.S. Rep. Warren Davidson was asked about Wednesday during a question and answer event in Oxford.
Maribel Trujillo Diaz was deported Wednesday to her homeland of Mexico, lawyers for the woman who has lived illegally in the U.S. since 2002, said in a statement. Her plight brought Butler County into the center of the national immigration debate.
Davidson, R-Troy, said his office provides assistance to constituents in the 8th Congressional District who request it, known as casework. The congressman said neither Trujillo nor a member of her family requested assistance, adding, “Frankly it was questionable whether if we could do casework for her. She was not a U.S. citizen.”
That response brought the mostly left-leaning crowd of about 75 people to shout the things they believed Trujillo did do: pay taxes, be a productive community member, possess a valid work permit, and take care of her four children between the ages of 3 and 14.
Trujillo came to the U.S. illegally in 2002, pregnant with her oldest child. ICE officials first came into contact with Trujillo in 2007, when she was among dozens arrested during a federal immigration raid at the Koch Foods plant in Fairfield.
Seeking asylum because her family was targeted by drug cartels in her Mexican hometown, Trujillo lost her final appeal in mid-2014.
When immigration officials again moved to deport her in 2016, religious leaders’ pleas on her behalf garnered Trujillo a work permit meant to last until this July.
That permit was still valid when ICE arrested her in April.
“This is a real problem on immigration. Fundamentally people who want her to stay here are saying, ‘Mr. Attorney General, please ignore the United States’ laws. Please don’t enforce our laws,’ ” Davidson said. “That is part of the problem that we’ve had that’s got us to this point. We have people that come to the country, illegally, and the country already provides a sense of amnesty because unlike many countries when you come here illegally you can open bank accounts, you can buy houses, you can rent houses, you can have kids who are Americans.”
Davidson called America’s immigration system “ broken” and advocates for reform with legal immigration — which costs thousands of dollars and years of waiting — however he said “the illegal part” of immigration is a problem.
“I agree with enforcing our laws, and unless we enforce our laws for people who come here illegally, then the legal part won’t work,” Davidson said. “There’s a shortage of skilled workers, there’s a mis-allocation of (visas) and we need for this to work efficiently.”
Davidson was asked if he had compassion for Trujillo’s situation, which he said he did but he also supports enforcing immigration laws.
“I appreciate the people of faith that took a position of ‘we have to help this person,’ and I respect people that do that personally, and I respect people that use their own dollars to help people,” Davidson said. “But I have a hard time with when you decide to take your neighbor’s dollars and help someone.”