DREAmers: DACA Rally at Downtown Painesville; CAMEO Meeting at Holiday Inn
On Wednesday, September 13th, our main event was a rally on behalf of DACA that took place in Downtown Painesville Square that was attended by some 200 people of all ages which is an excellent turnout for the middle of a weekday. Very wisely, it was said from the very beginning that this gathering was not a "protest" but a "rally" to encourage people to work on behalf of justice. In the course of the rally, petitions in were circulated and afterwards most of us walked across the street to the office of U.S. Congressperson David Joyce (District 14) where we handed them to one of the congressional staffers who very professionally accepted them and promised to make the Congressperson aware our visit.
The rally was emcee'd by Mr. Benjamin Jacinto who introduced the speakers and lead the attendees in chants that were expressive of their support for the DACA program. The rally lasted from about 2:30pm until 4pm and most of the speakers were DACA beneficiaries or dreamers who talked about how sad and frustrating it was for them to listen to their high school friends talk about how they were going to go to college and pursue their dreams which they could not because they were undocumented. But then President Obama gave them DACA which opened doors to them in terms of educational possibilities just as opportunities became available to a young DACA beneficiary who started a successful landscaping business. Throughout the course of the rally, however, it was emphasized that those benefitting from DACA do NOT have a pathway to citizenship nor do they receive federal student aid although they do pay taxes.
Now that DACA is being terminated, though, all of them wondered what all of their hard work was for and were very apprehensive about possibly having to be sent back to their countries of origin which they really had no connection to because their parents brought them here at an early age. It was also emphasized throughout the course of the rally that those benefiting from DACA do NOT have a pathway to citizenship nor do they receive federal student aid although they do pay taxes.
In addition to the dreamers, several of the speakers were U.S. citizens who were outraged by what the actions of the Trump administration.These included Painesville City Councilperson Christine Shoup, local attorney and businessperson Ms. Sandra Dray, and Ms. Betsy Rader, a U.S. Congressional candidate for 2018 in the 14th district.
One of the most dynamic speakers was a young woman named Chloe who is outraged over what is taking place because, as she said, undocumented youth had no choice about being brought here by their parents and although they work hard each day they do not have the freedom and liberties that we, as U.S. citizens, often take for granted.
Another person who spoke at the rally who struck a chord with us was Ms. Debbie Sarosy, a local high school teacher who said that she was initially opposed to allowing undocumented people to remain in the United States but after listening to the stories of her students (many of whom are/were undocumented) and doing research she has come down on the side of the dreamers. She felt very bad because she had observed a great deal of optimism after DACA came into being in 2012. She wondered out loud if "it was possible to take away dreams and turn them into nightmares."
After we left Painesville, we drove to the Holiday Inn in Independence were we attended the follow-up to August's CAMEO meeting in which some 82 candidates for local office spoke before the CAMEO membership in order to obtain an endorsement. On this occasion, at the September meeting, the membership actually voted on who to endorse. Actually a selected panel of CAMEO members had previously made recommendations to the CAMEO board who then voted on the endorsements. At this time, these endorsements were disclosed to the body of CAMEO members who could either approve them or override them with a 2/3 vote.
As explained by Mr. Pierre Bejjani, the President of CAMEO, the purpose was to support the candidate who was "the best fit for the job" and would address the needs of the thousands of U.S. citizens who immigrated, or their families immigrated, to Northeast Ohio from the Middle East.
The evening flew by quickly because there was no opposition to the what the board recommended except for one local judicial race so the night was over in approximately one hour. Several of the candidates stopped by to see how things were going including Mayor Frank G. Jackson of Cleveland who, not unexpectedly, is now the officially endorsed candidate of CAMEO.
Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC