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Out & About in Cleveland

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Town Hall Meeting Held by U.S. Congressperson Marcia Fudge

On Saturday, February 25th, our most important event was our first one for the day which was a town hall meeting held by U.S. Congressperson Marcia Fudge (Democrat, Ohio's 11th Congressional District) at Tri-C Corporate College East in Warrensville Heights at 10am.
We arrived early and joined other people in making signs regarding important issues that we would hold up at appropriate times during the meeting. Our own sign read, "Fearless Immigration Reform Needed." We showed it to U.S. Congressperson Fudge when she first arrived and asked her what she thought of it. She said, "it's cool."

To no surprise at all, the large room was absolutely packed with people with every seat occupied so many had to stand in the aisle and/or watch the meeting via TV in the foyer. Quite a few elected officials were present including Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish, Ohio State Senator Sandra Williams (Democrat, District 21), Mayor Richard Bain of Pepper Pike, Mayor Bradley Sellers of Warrensville Heights, Mayor Merle Gordon of Beachwood,  Mayor Trevor Elkins of Newburgh Heights, and Cleveland City Councilperson Zack Reed (Ward 2).

Sharing the stage with U.S. Congressperson Fudge were knowledgeable people who were there to help her answer questions pertaining to their areas of expertise. These specialists were Mr. Mike Brickner from the "American Civil Liberties Union"; Ms. Semanthie Brooks from the "Benjamin Rose Institute"; Ms. Rachel DeGolias from "Uhcan, Ohio"; and Mr. Loren Anthes from the "Center for Community Solutions". 

During her opening remarks, some of the things that U.S. Congressperson Fudge said included:

***She believed that town halls were very important because elected officials need "to listen to the people we serve. Thus she was unhappy with those who lacked the courage to have them.

***The past month (i.e. since the Trump administration assumed the reins) has been very difficult because the environment that she has been working in has been "unsettled" and new executive orders have been issued each day for the past 30 days.

***She was very concerned about attempts to dismantle the very detailed Affordable Care Act piece-by-piece and if this happened all would be hurt.

***There has been a continued assault on immigrants via the proposed wall along the United States/Mexican border and moves to penalize sanctuary cities.

***Six months ago if President Obama had attempted to do with executive orders what President Trump is doing now, President Obama's opponents would have accused him of misusing his power.

***We must continue in our efforts to oppose the Trump administration's more dangerous proposals because as the late Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "silence is betrayal" and as U.S. Congressperson Fudge maintained, "I will not be silent!" and received great applause as an expression of approval.

Questions were then welcomed and everyone (including ourselves) jumped up to get in line behind a single microphone. We were fortunate to be one of the first ten people in a line that stretched almost all of the way back to the door leading into the large room.

Among the subjects that came up during the Q and A while we were there were voting rights,climate change and energy policy, animal rights, medicare reform, campaign finance reform, excessive military spending, and how the Affordable Care Act has helped so many people. U.S. Congressperson Fudge and those who were assisting her answered them all in an honest, direct manner.

When it was our turn to ask a question, we stated that we represented "Margaret W. Wong and Associates" and received a telling round of applause. We went on to ask if attempts were underway to form alliances with the business community on behalf of comprehensive immigration reform and to refute the President Trump's misleading remarks about immigrants and propositions. We pointed out that some otherwise politically conservative people that we knew were at odds with President Trump on this particular matter.

U.S. Congressperson Fudge made it clear that she was on our side but, as she saw it, the trouble was that President Trump has really "poisoned the waters" regarding immigration. Therefore, many of the people who would otherwise be on our side too were afraid to incur the President's wrath by opposing him at this time. Nevertheless, she urged us all to continue to advocate for positive reforms, not those brought about by fear, and she hoped that in time more people would have the courage to stand with us. Along these lines, she said that she believed that the position that our Muslim community was now in was "very, very sad" indeed.

At this town hall, we were very fortunate enough to be seated next to Ms. Donna Lipson, a very concerned person who emailed us later after we had left to let us know that during the program, "there was a very moving comment by a man from Iraq who said his girlfriend was target of terrible remarks at WalMart. Something like 'go back to where you came from.' I think everyone wanted to give him a hug. Huge support in room for immigration reform."    

By:

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC