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Out & About in Cleveland

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City Club Panel Discussion; Meeting of The Westlake Democratic Club; 5th Annual Feed the Need

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On Monday, November 20th, we drove to Youngstown for a "City Club of Mahoning Valley" panel discussion about the U.S. immigration policy under President Trump. The discussion took place at "Suzie's Dogs and Drafts" on North Phelps Street and it was moderated by Professor Timothy Francisco from the Department of English at Youngstown State University and the panelists were Ms. Koula E. Glaros-King, a legal aid attorney; Ms. M.L. Schultze, a reporter/producer at "WKSU"; and Mr. Jeff Stewart, coordinator at the "The Immigrant Worker Project."

Basically the discussion, itself, was an excellent overview of issues that have figured prominently both before and after President Trump took office but there were still things said that we found interesting such as:

***Actually what the "RAISE Act" (Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment) purports to do in terms of allowing immigrants to remain in the United States on a long-term basis largely based on financial viability is already taking place because our immigration system favors those who are well off and/or have the right connections to make them well off. By moving further away from family as the defining factor, we are really moving further away from the nucleus of economic security that a family provides as well as creating a climate of insecurity because family connections play a large role in making a foreign-born person feel less isolated. As we know, isolation often contributes to a person being drawn to extremist elements. We also know that immigrants tend to be very resourceful people who are excellent in terms of acquiring the skills to move up from entry level jobs and making a very solid economic contribution to their new communities so making it a requirement that they have the needed skills for jobs available (at the moment) shouldn't be the key brick in immigration proceedings.

***Regarding governmental monitoring, a foreign-born person living in the U.S. (documented and undocumented) needs to be very thorough in his/her record-keeping not only in terms of earnings and taxation but also by way of personal matters like marriage/divorce, various residences, medical records, travel documents, and any encounter with law enforcement/immigration officials even if she/he was told "don't worry about it" because policies change and the potential for serious trouble is there. In addition one's social media site should be relatively tame with as less provocative materials posted as possible.

***To end DACA would be much more of an economic loss than most people realize because the young people involved have been taught by our learning institutions to develop their talents and now they may have to leave without the opportunity to put these talents to work both for themselves and for the rest of our society.

***On a local level, Youngstown is home to a "private prison" or detention facility so undocumented people apprehended by ICE are brought there from all over Ohio, if not beyond. Speaking of ICE, it seems like its officials have been given more latitude to do what it takes for them to apprehend a suspect; therefore a climate of inconsistency pertaining to policy and rules (not just with ICE but with the courts too) is becoming prevalent.

***Akron has done a fine job in terms of welcoming refugees and an ambiance wherein the newcomers learn from those born here in the U.S. and those born in the U.S. have learned a lot from the refugees who are working hard to learn English without being forced. In fact, records show that refugee families have purchased over 20 houses, many of them for $100,000.00. Needless to say, this is quite a boon for the local economy.

***The old adage that "my grandparents entered the United States the right way so everyone else can too" is not necessarily a reflection of how it was. Quite a few people who came here in the early to mid parts of the 20th century never properly registered.

We arrived early and enjoyed a vegan hot dog and good conversation with the other attendees (a pretty good crowd for the Monday before Thanksgiving) including Sister Ann McManamon of the local "Catholic Worker" who once taught Mr. Tom Mrosko, Director of Migration and Refugee Services Office, part of "Catholic Charities" of the Diocese of Cleveland, and Mr. Hunter Morrison, Senior Fellow of the "Maxine Goodman College of Urban Affairs" who has known Ms. Margaret W. Wong for many years.

Just as the discussion was getting underway, it was announced that a news flash was received concerning the Trump administration ending a humanitarian program that has allowed over 50,000 Haitians to live in the U.S. since the 2010 earthquake. Now those with "Temporary Protected Status" will be forced to leave the U.S. by July of 2019. This announcement was met with apprehension and sadness because it was considered highly doubtful that Haiti could re-absorb these people now due to troubled economic conditions there. To make things even worse, we later read that many people in Haiti are reliant upon the money that is sent to them by their friends and family members living in the U.S. who can remain here not that much longer.

Interestingly on Tuesday, November 21st, we went to a meeting of the Westlake Democratic Club in which Ms. Michelle Mahon from "National Nurses United" spoke about health care in the U.S. and the need for a "Medicare for All" type of health care system.

We realize that this is a controversial topic and not one often associated with immigration although Ms. Mahon told us that under the bill she and her organization were espousing (introduced in the U.S. Senate and House by respectively U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders and U.S. Rep. John Conyers) all people living in the U.S. including both documented and undocumented immigrants would be covered.

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What really impressed us was the underlying theme that those fighting for health care reform and those of us fighting for immigration reform are connected by the conditions of these times which are "incomprehensible" as Ms. Mahon believed and by heated rhetoric and opinions that makes dialogue about constructive reforms very difficult.

What's more, Ms. McMahon stated that it is dangerous to adopt a defensive mode at this point; health care advocates must continue to move forward in their plans for a health care system under which all will be covered, they must not only work to save and protect the Affordable Care Act under the claim that it is all that we have despite its problems.

Likewise, those of us who have long believed that the United States immigration policy needs a positive all-encompassing overhaul must continue to think and work along those lines; in short, we cannot allow what the negative actions of the Trump administration to dominate our thinking (not to say that we cannot challenge them) to the extent that we lose sight of our overall goal.

 

On a lighter but perhaps more physically strenuous note, earlier in the day on Tuesday we took part in the 5th Annual "Feed the Need" endeavor at the "TownHall" on West 25th Street in Ohio City which would provide thousands of financially disadvantaged people with a nutritious Thanksgiving dinner. 

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We aren't sure but we believe that this was our fourth year of volunteering and we loved working under the supervision of Mr. Brian Day (who contacted us personally and assured us that we were definitely on the volunteer list and that he valued our help and thanked Ms. Wong for giving us the day off to attend) and Mr. Ryan Hartzell, general manager of the "TownHall".

We spent the first part of the morning taping silver and blue plastic sheets to the tables so that they would be more cleanable and made it our job, for most of the rest of the day, to assist in the slicing of pumpkin pies and then placing the slices on metal trays so that the next volunteer could anoint them with whipped cream topping. We were helped in these duties by such fine young volunteers as Miss Corinne Nykaza, a student from "Walsh Jesuit High School" who took a day off from her studies to take part in this worthy project, and Miss Denaliz Eminian who works as a hostess at "TownHall" while she is pursuing her educational goals at Tri-C.

Accordingly, we spent a lot of time in the kitchen area and seldom ventured out of it (although Mr. Day and Mr. Hartzell made it clear that we could take a break as often as we liked) so we didn't get to greet too many of the athletes and local TV personalities who were acting as celebrity servers. Honestly, however, we don't watch TV or follow sports very closely so it was no loss to us.

We couldn't resist, though, asking Mr. Wayne Dawson from "Fox 8 in the Morning" if he thought this winter would be colder than last year's (which was way below average in severity) and he replied that overall it would be colder than last year's and added that it already was. And Mr. Dawson was right; we recall the Thanksgiving of 2016 as being unusually warm whereas this one in 2017 looks to be cool to cold.

Then we asked one young guy, who was serving mashed potatoes and attracting a lot of attention in terms of photographs, if he was a professional football player and he said that he was so we thanked him for being there and he said that we were welcome and thanked us for working at our job too. Happily, it was like all status was diminished and we were all teammates putting ourselves to work for a common goal.

 

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC

 

 

 

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