Bishop Perez on Immigration

Our last event for Thursday, was the 2019 Frank J. Battisti Memorial Lecture at the Unsalata Alumni Center at CWRU. The speaker was the Most Reverend Nelson J. Perez, Bishop of Cleveland, who talked about “Immigration and the Dignity of the Human Person.” Bishop Perez made it clear in the beginning of his address that he was not speaking as an authority on immigration, an attorney, a politician, or as a law enforcement official. Instead he would be addressing the issue from his own perspective, which was that of a shepherd and/or a pastor.

He went on to make a heartfelt plea for all immigrants/migrants to be treated with compassionate and understanding just as we would like to be treated under similar circumstances. As a learned Biblical scholar, the Bishop cited examples from scripture about how Mary and Joseph and the Israelites were migrants at one time. Accordingly, he requested that we keep in mind that people who come to the United States come here because they want a better, more fulfilling life for themselves and their families, just like all of us do. Plus, they often do not wish to leave their homes but do so out of fear.

To be sure, the bishop shared with us his own experience as the child of Cuban immigrants who left the country in 1960, presumably on a holiday, and re-settled in the United States where he was born a short time later. Thus, as he said with a touch of humor, he was “made” in Cuba and “packaged” in the United States.

The bishop made it quite clear that his family didn’t want to leave Cuba but they were realistically concerned about the ever-increasing brutality of the Castro regime. Bishop Perez recalled that things were not easy for his family at first and they did encounter discrimination here in the U.S.  Yet his father (who held a very important banking position in Cuba) was not afraid to start life all over again and went to work for a U.S. bank in the humble position as a teller; years later, when he retired, he was an executive vice president.

The bishop readily recognized that a country has a right to be secure within its borders and asked that people call for a balanced resolution to the current controversy regarding undocumented immigrants and their place in the United States. Very wisely, the Bishop avoided political partisanship and claimed to be neither a republican or a democrat, but rather a human being concerned about the well-being of others. Along these lines, he talked about how bad he felt about the deportation of Pedro Hernandez-Ramirez. Mr. Hernandez-Ramirez was the primary caregiver for a severely disabled son. Bishop Perez interceded on behalf of the family in 2017. Bishop Perez felt that the system was unjust, noting that Mr. Hernandez-Ramirez tried everything he could to stay in the United States to care for his family but was still deported. Accordingly, he made a plea for comprehensive immigration reform. He noted that this is urgently needed and has been for some time now.

We couldn’t agree more; in our firm we are intimately familiar with the problems in our current system.