ASTORIA – The Pancyprian Association organized a fundraiser on March 12 to help Renos Efthymiou, the Cypriot musician remains in the Seneca County Jail (Detroit Field Office) in Ohio after his February 23 arrest by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents for overstaying his student visa. The funds raised will help cover the cost of his release on bail, expenses, and the renewal of his visa.
The event took place at Dionysos Restaurant in Astoria with representatives from all sections of the Pancyprian Association in attendance and raised $7,425.
Pancyprian President Philip Christopher, General Director of the Kyrenia Opera Constantinos Yiannoudes, Petros Petrides- Theatrical Group “Our Cyprus” President, and members of the Pancyprian Choir, contacted Efthymiou by phone and expressed their support.
During the opening speech, Christopher expressed his gratitude to all those who were present, as well as to those who were unable to attend due to their obligations, but they sent their donations. At the same time, he thanked The National Herald for its coverage of the story which spread all the way to Cyprus.
Referring to Efthymiou, Christopher pointed out that he came to New York at the end of 2015 with a student visa and contributed to the Pancyprian Choir, the Kyrenia Opera, and the Pancyprian Theater. Efthymiou, as Christopher said, “is an extremely good person, we all love him, and he is a member of the large family of Pancyprian.”
“Renos had gone to Chicago for information about schools and on February 23, he was returning by bus to New York. ICE agents were seeking to arrest another illegal immigrant, and because they found that Renos had violated his visa, he was arrested. We hired a lawyer to represent him, and at the same time we paid $2,000 required as a retaining fee to proceed with the bail hearing,” Christopher added.
He noted that his case was quite difficult and that they would continue the fight for Efthymiou’s release and to start the visa renewal process, and that Pancyprian will pay the tuition fees so he can continue his studies and realize his dreams.
Referring to Efthymiou’s parents, Christopher said that they live in Cyprus and that they are fighting for their son’s future. “They communicate daily with me and I try to reassure them by saying that Reno has Pancyprian which is concerned about him as if he were our own child,” Christopher said.
The President of the Panpaphian Association, George Sophocleous, noted that “we are here because we have a common purpose” and that “there are many other expatriates living in fear of deportation.”
“There are tremendous problems in the Greek community and our concern with problems like Renos Efthymiou’s gives us the opportunity to show the value of our associations,” Sophocleous said.
General director of the Kyrenia Opera Constantinos Yiannoudes said there are many other students who, due to lack of money, have stopped their studies, and cannot renew their student visa.
Christos Brachimis, who had come from Cyprus, congratulated Pancyprian on the initiative and cited examples of Cypriots who had been deported in the past, noting that “these young people are losing their future.”