The Royalton Recorder is a well-known publication in this part of Cuyahoga County. But, would you believe that the Recorder recently made its way to South America?
North Royalton resident Ewald J. Consen recently flew to his homeland of Suriname, which is located on the north coast of South America (just north of Brazil). While flying to Suriname, Consen spent some time reading his Recorder.
Mr. Consen was heading back to his homeland to celebrate his aunt’s 90th birthday.
The 83-year-old Consen has had a varied and interesting life that has literally stretched around the world. From the US, to Europe, to Suriname to Trinidad and plenty of countries in between, EJ has a unique knowledge of immigration issues.
What I also discovered is that EJ has one of the few Americans who are the subject of a specific measure passed by the U.S. House and Senate on Capitol Hill.
If you have lived in the Cleveland area since the 1950s and the 1960s, you may remember Ewald Consen’s name. He was the subject of drawn-out legal battle with the U.S. Immigration Service.
When EJ came to the Cleveland area in 1957, he had no problems entering the United States because his father was Dutch. But, when his brother Frank attempted to come to the US, the Immigration Service discovered that while EJ’s father was Dutch, his mother was Chinese. That meant Consen’s brother could enter the country only under the Chinese quota, which meant a 10-year wait. And it was determined that EJ was in the United States illegally and was ordered deported.
Carl Lezius, a Cleveland businessman who sponsored Consen for his visa into the US, took up the fight to have EJ stay in the country.
The names of the people who sent EJ letters to help him in his quest to stay in the United States is impressive. It starts with Cleveland Press Editor Louis B. Seltzer and continues with Congressional Representative Francis Bolton, U.S. Senators Frank Lausche and Stephen Young and Ohio Secretary of State Ted Brown.
Dozens of people wrote letters to President John Kennedy, asking that EJ be allowed to remain in the United States. Others telephoned the White House. “All of Cleveland became my support,” said EJ.
EJ even got a letter from President Kennedy. “This could only happen in America. A little guy like me could get all the way to the President and have him get involved in my little cause,” said EJ.
In the middle of all this EJ’s mother told him that his father, who lived in Holland had died. “It was the toughest time in my life because my dad was my pal,” EJ said. While he would be allowed to leave the United States to attend the funeral in Holland, EJ would not be allowed to come back into the United States.
Eventually, HR 1455 was introduced into the Congress on January 9, 1963 by Congresswoman Bolton and was approved. “There is a law on the books in the United States specifically for me,” said EJ. Soon after the bill was approved, Ewald J. Consen took the oath and became an American Citizen.
What does EJ think of the discussion concerning immigration that is dominating the 2016 Presidential Election?
“I believe that you should earn citizenship. It should not be a gift. I earned it, the hard way,” he said.
How did EJ find his way to North Royalton? “During my time in Cleveland, families in the area ‘adopted me’. One of those was the Ambrose family here in North Royalton.”
By JOE JASTRZEMSKI