City Music Cleveland, Global Cleveland and the City Club of Greater Cleveland all collaborated on a wonderful program at the City Club on Friday, March 21st, featuring Kerry Kennedy, the very charismatic and very socially conscious daughter of the late Attorney General and U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy, who discussed her life and her work on behalf of refugees as the President of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights which assists refugees by engaging in strategic litigation, advocacy and human rights education.
After her speech, Ms. Kennedy took several questions including a couple about comprehensive immigration reform in the United States (one of which was asked by our friend Jose Feliciano of the Hispanic Roundtable). To summarize, Ms. Kennedy said that she didn’t believe that comprehensive immigration reform will pass at this time due to the contentious nature of the current U.S. Congress and believed that a fence along the U.S./Mexican border would be a waste of time, money and energy and would, moreover, send the wrong message to the rest of the world. Along these lines, she pointed out that no one who has committed a terrorist act in the United States entered the country by illegally crossing the U.S./Mexican border and that the vast majority of the undocumented came to this country legally but overstayed their visas.
More than once during the program, Ms. Kennedy cited former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Tim Hagen as a person who has consistently stood up for his convictions and is regarded by the Kennedys as one of the family.
We also got to talk to Luanne Bole-Becker who was tabling in the lobby for the Refugee Services Collaborative of Greater Cleveland which, as stated in their literature, “is a group of Cleveland organizations that have joined together to better serve the rising numbers of refugees resettling in Northeast Ohio. ..” We are grateful to Ms. Bole-Becker for recommending their website to us for information about the economic impact of refugees on the local and national economies after we asked her for help.