Three days, 2 ups and  1 down, three opportunities to make Cleveland, Cuyahoga County and Ohio more welcoming. One week.

This past Thursday I had the opportunity to speak with representatives of the Executive Branch in Washington, DC. I was invited by the National Jewish Federation to speak to the policy being considered now known as the Public Charge. This policy, last in place in the 1880s, would create a scenario that would punish green card holders and long-time permanent visa holders (all legal immigrants) for accepting government food assistance, housing, health care, or even public education. The punishment? Denial of green card or visa renewal based on the acceptance of any of these widely offered often temporary measures of survival.

Our position at Global Cleveland is straightforward. All too often these orders do not take into account the pain on newcomers AND the pain on the native-born population. As an example, the nursing homes and skilled living facilities are great employers of immigrants and international newcomers. Cleaning rooms, changing beds, caring for our elderly is tough work. Without these internationally born individuals who lovingly care for our elderly and vulnerable, care would be compromised.

So, is it the Bosnian nurse’s aid who will suffer if food stamp acceptance becomes a do or die when it comes to visa renewal? Yes.

Will the residents of any one of the thousands of nursing homes suffer when an already tight and short labor market is strained even more because the Bosnian nurse’s aid is hungry, sleep-deprived, or quits? Yes and yes.

So it is with our work as fierce advocates for immigrants.

Wednesday we hosted the full faculty of University School at Thomas Jefferson International Newcomers Academy, the nation’s only pre-k through 12 English as a Second Language School. There are a lot of things that I am proud of regarding Global Cleveland’s strengths. Introducing the organization of Leadership Cleveland and over 1000 greater Clevelanders to this special school on West 46 and Clark is one of them. So often being an advocate for the immigrant community is opening a door. Opening a door for the newcomer to have access to the networks native-born Clevelanders take for granted, opening a door to someone borne here to the incredible energy and humanity of those born in another country. This is what we do daily and we do well. The joy of the faculty in learning about this school, the hopes voiced of how collaborations could take-off during this upcoming school year, all of this brings such happiness to me, to our team, to people who visited this school for the first time.

And last night I had the honor of attending the ChildLife Foundation presentation by Dr. Robbani who traveled to Cleveland from Karachi, Pakistan. Dr. Robbani is disrupting the high rate of mortality for children under the age of 5 in Pakistan. In the regions where his team of medical professionals is saving lives, the rate of children recovering from serious illness and surviving has gone from an abysmal 15% to 90%+. I couldn’t help but think of our own city’s unacceptable infant mortality rate and how much we could stand to learn from our sisters and brothers in Pakistan.

So often we feel as if we have knowledge to share with the world, and we do. And the world has a lot to teach us, a 241 years young nation. I say all this to illustrate how wide and varied the work of advocating for immigrants in Northeast Ohio is every single day. All with the purpose of making our community more welcoming, more friendly, with more newcomers moving here every year.

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