On Thursday afternoon, September 23rd, we took part in National Migration Week vigil outside of Cleveland Immigration Court at the Carl B. United States Courthouse that featured concerned speakers from many social justice organizations.
All told, those who spoke who called for the Biden Administration to show compassion for the Haitians gathered in Del Rio, especially considering the United States’ troubled history with Haiti, to reconsider detention of the undocumented, and for the U.S. Senate Parliamentarian to reverse the decision preventing immigration reform to be included in the reconciliation bill.
Other matters addressed included the necessity of passing comprehensive immigration reform and the need to address the systemic racism inherent in our society that is reflected in our immigration policies.
Ms. Chrissy Stonebreaker-Martinez, Co-Director of the Interreligious Task Force on Central America (IRTF) coordinated the event and the speakers included Ms. Samantha Melendez from the Young Latino Network; Ms. Pearl Chen (i.e., whose parents immigrated to the United States from China) from the IRTF; Ms. Lynn Tramonte from the Ohio Immigrant Alliance; Mr. Don Bryant, Greater Cleveland Immigrant Support Network; Mr. Chris Kerr from the Ignatian Solidarity Network; Ms. Mariely Luengo from the Julia De Burgos Cultural Arts Center; two representatives from New Era Young Lords including Manny Santiago; Lu Zucker from the Cuyahoga County Jail Coalition; Maryam Sy from the Ohio Immigrant Alliance; and Mr. Kareem Henton from Black Lives Matter.
We, ourselves, got to say a few words regarding the need to expedite the safe evacuation (i.e., still ongoing) of all special immigrant visa holders from Afghanistan who assisted our government and our armed forces.
Unfortunately, due to the cold wet wind, we were unable to take careful notes but, fortunately, several of those who spoke shared with us copies of their speeches which we very much appreciated.
Along these lines, Mr. Kerr, who attends St. Dominic Church and knows Ms. Margaret W. Wong, reminded us that on Sunday, September 26th, World Day of Migrants and Refugees will be celebrated and, accordingly, quoted this reflection by Pope Francis:
“The highest price is being paid by those who most easily become viewed as others: foreigners, migrants, the marginalized, those living on the existential peripheries. The truth however is that we are all in the same boat and called to work together so that there will be no more walls that separate us, no longer others, but only a single ‘we’ encompassing all of humanity.”
Likewise, Ms. Melendez challenged all of those present “to continue to learn, to be educated, and to use your seat of power or place of privilege in this world to stand up for those who cannot…”