On Saturday, July 12th, we attended the Walk for Justice In Support of Compassionate and Comprehensive Immigration Reform supported by such institutions as the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland. Its purpose was to stop deportations, and call for family unification, creation of a path to citizenship, and due process. The program consisted of a 10am prayer service at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist at East Ninth and Superior which was followed by the Walk for Justice at 11:15am that would end in Public Square after making stops at the Federal Building, the Justice Center, and the Federal Courthouse. At each stop speakers talked about their experiences with the immigration process and prayers were said.
Before we went into the cathedral we stopped and talked with Reverend Clyde Foster who is the Pastor of St. Cosmas and Damian Parish in Twinsburg because we really liked his t-shirt which read “I’m an Immigrant”. Reverend Foster was born in the United States but he said that he wore this shirt to emphasize the fact that we are all descended from immigrants. Once we were inside the Cathedral we sat with Father Ted Cassidy of St. Aloysius and discussed the need for immigration reform.
The overall message of the prayer service and the walk was best described by this passage which was read during the proceedings:
“At this crucial moment in time, we ask that our leaders in government enact compassionate, humane, and just legislation for immigration reform. We pray that the importance of families and the dignity and precious value of each human being take priority in the immigration debate. We pray as well that the advocacy of our church leaders will take root with Congress and bear much fruit, and that they may impress upon our lawmakers the moral urgency of this issue…We pray around the world, a united and resounding cry of “No more! Nunca mas!” might erupt over the senseless and tragic deaths associated with treacherous crossings. We pray that every immigrant receive due process under the law, and that those languishing in detention centers, and those petitioning for a stay of deportation, may receive compassionate and just treatment. We pray as well for the children separated from their parents because of detention or deportation, and for the unaccompanied minor children, alone and afraid, that they may soon be reunited with their families…”
Today at the prayer service there were three excellent speakers who were our dear friend Sister Rita Mary Harwood, Father Robert J. Reidy of La Sagrada Familia in Cleveland, and Reverend Abraham D. Allende of the Lutheran Church of the Covenant in Maple Heights who basically emphasized the above points when they spoke.
Sister Rita said that we needed to stop and think about what we were doing today and how much it meant to those that we were trying to assist. She went on to say that we are a country of immigrants who came from different parts of the world to create a new world of “peace, justice and love.”
Father Reidy said that our culture stresses that a person needs to put himself/herself first/before anyone else which makes him/her indifferent to the needs of others. He urged us to consider the 100,000 or so children who were separated from there parents and perhaps stuck in detention camps as well as the dreamers or children brought to the U.S. at an early age by their parents and thus had no say about it, who were “caught between two worlds.”
Reverend Allende said that the Bible is the “ultimate immigration handbook” because it instructs us to regard each other as brothers and sisters regardless of where we come from. Reverend Allende went on to suggest that people who are fearful of the questionable economic impact of immigration were more concerned about the loss of their personal luxuries more than their legitimate needs.
Fortunately, the walk started before it became too hot and plenty of water was provided so people of all ages and cultures participated; Sister Rita estimated that the number of marchers totalled between 400 and 500 people. Almost everyone had signs and we carried one that said “When did your family immigrate?”
Probably the most moving stories that we heard along the way were from a woman named Vanessa Rivera who works with victims of domestic violence who are afraid to turn to law enforcement for assistance because they are concerned about possible deportation and from a young woman named Jessica, a United States citizen, whose husband immigrated from Honduras illegally years ago and recently came very close to being deported. As it stands now, Jessica and her children plan to go with her husband when he returns to Honduras for about six months so he can put his paperwork together. Jessica said she believed that our system was much too complicated and that it took two tries to obtain a temporary stay of deportation for her husband when it should have only taken one; plus it is going to be very expensive for the family to temporarily move to Honduras but they want to stay together.
We left this event very impressed by the thought-provoking prayer service and the wonderful turnout for the walk. Also taking part today were a lot of our friends like Joe Meissner, Attorney at Law and Debbie Kline from Cleveland Jobs with Justice. T-Shirts were distributed to all walkers saying “Immigration Reform Now!” but Dr. Michael A. Dover of the School of Social Work at Cleveland State University said that the perfect t-shirt for this walk would be, “I’m a Kid from Northeast Ohio and I’m for Immigration Reform!”
We left the walk and drove to Shaker Heights to attend a fundraiser for Ms. Connie Pillich who is a candidate for Ohio State Treasurer. The fundraiser was held at the lovely home of Mr. Thom Moore,a recording producer who has won several grammys for his work with classical music and jazz and Mr. Doug Bunker who works for Edward Jones.
We talked to several people who know Ms. Wong including Mr. Bill Hogsett who did some work with her 30 years ago when he worked for Eaton as an attorney.
All told there were about 20 people there on this day and Ms. Pillich warmly greeted all of them. When it was time for her to speak she spoke about her own background as an attorney whose specialty was banking law which is one of her qualifications to become Ohio State Treasurer. She also talked about the office itself; the Ohio State Treasurer oversees $200 billion in state assets as well as the state pension system. It used to provide consumer education by way of workshops to help people manage their money but these were recently terminated and Ms. Pillich would re-instate them if she is elected.
Most importantly, Ms. Pillich would move for an “independent watchdog” to monitor the activities of the Ohio State Treasurer’s office which has been having problems for at least 10 years now and is in need of oversight.
During the course of the hour and a half event, we had a very civil discussion with a person who was opposed to current immigration reform package now before the U.S. Congress because she believes that there have to be more restrictions and the end result of our discussion was that we agreed to disagree.
Before we left, Mr. Moore stopped us and asked us to convey to Ms. Wong that he really admires her for her work on behalf of immigrants and the Cleveland community. Mr. Moore believes that Ms. Margaret W. Wong is “a force of nature” and we laughed and readily agreed.
Our next stop was St. Sava’s Picnic area on West Ridgewood Road where that 2nd Annual Lebanese Festival presented by the Northern Ohio Lebanese American Association was taking place. The president of this organization is Mr. Rick Ganim who we see at several events throughout the year so he recognized us and said hello.
First of all we had a spinach pie and a Falafel and made a new friend out of Ms. Lee Pacak from North Royalton who loves to attend festivals so we talked to her about several festivals that are upcoming and she might take in a few including the CAMEO picnic coming up next week.
Our very good friend Ms. Joy Roller was there to table for Global Cleveland. We talked to Ms. Roller about her recent trip to Washington, D.C. where she revealed the new portal for Global Cleveland, just as she did in Cleveland two months ago. Ms. Roller said that she considered her trip to be a success because 200 people came to the program; 137 filled out surveys; and 118 of the people who filled out the surveys said that they would consider moving to Cleveland!
We left the festival after staying there for an hour or so and were happy to see that there were a lot of people there and more were coming.
Our last stop for Saturday was the Dinner for the annual Serbian Golf Outing. The actual golf outing was held at Sleepy Hollow Golf Course in Brecksville and the Dinner was served at St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church on West Wallings Road in Broadview Heights.
These events were put on by another of our very dear friends, Mr. Alex Machaskee and Margaret W. Wong and Associates was very proud to sponsor a Hole earlier in the day and receive a “Special Thank You” in the dinner program.
In fact Margaret W. Wong and Associates bought an entire table for the dinner and it was good to sit down with the people that we work with but seldom get to spend time with because we are usually so busy running around to various places. Ms. Wong, herself, also stopped by this evening and everyone was very glad to see her and she received many hugs.
This was not a night for speeches and networking but a night for friends to get together and enjoy each other. As people ate and visited the were entertained by a fine band named Sarena, which has played together for 18 years, and specializes in songs and tunes from Serbia, Croatia, and Macedonia. It was also beautiful when the band played softly when grace was said before dinner.
We asked Mr. Machaskee how he thought the day went and he said, “outstanding; there were 88 golfers who played today and 150 people for dinner tonight.”
This was a simple, direct answer that truly fit the bill and we were glad we were there.