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Prayer and Press Event for Northeast Ohio Families Affected by Deportation

On Monday, May 15th, we begin our week at a "Prayer and Press Event for Northeast Ohio Families Affected by Deportation" called by HOLA in front of St. Casimir Church on Sowinski Avenue in Cleveland. As the email we received read, this gathering was called because "as deportations rise across the country more than 35 Northeast Ohio children will lose their parents to deportation within weeks. Religious leaders and concerned Ohioans gather to pray and urge Congress to put an end to needless family separation."

 As was pointed out by Ms. Veronica Dahlberg, HOLA's Executive Director, the neighborhood surrounding St. Casimir's used to "bustle" with people who immigrated to the United States from Poland but at this time there are a lot of vacant houses here and families are needed to fill them. She emphasized that in the areas of crime and the economy, immigration is a solution, not a problem. Accordingly, this week HOLA has received commitments from over 300 people in Northeast Ohio to call and/or visit their U.S. Congresspeople with this message and to urge them to stop the deportations that are tearing families apart.

Ms. Dahlberg introduced several other speakers who included:

 ***Ms. Loriann Mottolo from Lake County who said that she was proud of of the diversity of her community. For example, when she visits her local market she often encounters Hispanic people and they are always very polite and their children are very well behaved. She believed that these people are a positive testament to the spirit of family and Christianity and not to have them in her community would adversely affect her own family.

 ***Mr. Brian Rice of Lake County shared his observation that people who have come here from other lands very much appreciate the United States and bring with them many positive qualities that the native born do not have. From his own standpoint, Mr. Mulhall contended that immigrants have a lot to offer our communities and belong here documented or undocumented.

 ***Reverend John Beaty from Akron recalled his frustration when he tried to post a bond for an undocumented person and learned that the latter's hearing had be re-scheduled and he could not be released.  From there, he recounted the sorrow of the family he was trying to help.  In the course of his testimony he noted how much immigrants from the Hispanic countries and Bhutan have contributed to the revitalization of the North Hill community.

 ***Ms. Elizabeth Perez; who is a U.S. Marine Corps combat veteran, mother of three small children, and active member of HOLA for years; talked about how she might have to leave the U.S. soon to join her husband (who was deported after being pulled over for a motor vehicle infraction) in Mexico. One of her children also spoke about how much he would prefer to remain here in the U.S. where he goes to school and has friends.

***A woman whose mother's asylum application had been denied but she had been allowed to stay pending appeal. She has now lived in the United States for many years but, in lieu of the present political climate, she now worries each time that her mother checks-in with the authorities (as she must do periodically) that she may not return.

 ***Our friend Mr. Joe Feckanin, a member of the congregation at St Casimir Church, emphasized that when the family unit is broken a vital part of our society is broken also. He then lead everyone in prayer.

 ***Another friend of ours from St. Casimir Church, Mr. John Neidzialek spoke for a couple of minutes and then shared his notes with us. Amongst the things he said were:

 "We gather today regarding the simple message of keeping families together. It is not a political message; it is a message of speaking out about children and families caught in the crosshairs of a broken system. Many families, and I am speaking of American families of Hispanic heritage are being split apart. We have established hard working families that have been in this country for many years in this area being torn apart and in many cases with no reason. The area around this church, St. Casimir was once a neighborhood of immigrants themselves, Polish immigrants who have contributed so much to their churches and God, to their families, to America, to the world and all fabrics of society, they are know as some of the greatest freedom fighters in the world and their love from mankind. They do not abandon their families, their God or their country. That is why we are hear today, in front of a Polish Church....The Hispanic people like the Polish are people of strong faith. They come here today to pray and ask for help in keeping their families together, to look at their cases one by one for their merit and not to abandon them. It is fitting on the remembrance week of Our Lady of Fatima Miracle that people come to gather here today to pray to Mary, the Mother of God."


Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC