Monday, June 25, 2018

Ohio Immigration Reform Leaders Join National Coalition, Voice Optimism

Business, community and faith leaders announced Wednesday the creation of an Ohio coalition within a national immigration advocacy group,, which seeks comprehensive immigration reform from Congress.
Members of the coalition include Cleveland Jobs for Justice, Faith in Public Life, the Korean Chamber of Commerce, Latino Business League and several others, including the president of Xavier University and a president emeritus at the University of Dayton.
Speaking at the Ohio Statehouse, Carl Ruby said he supports three steps of reforms for both moral and economic reasons. Ruby is senior pastor at Springfield’s Central Christian Church and a leader with Welcome Springfield, a group that supports immigrants.
The three steps proposed by are reforms to unlock immigrants’ potential, ensuring border security and introducing a pathway to legalization for undocumented immigrants already in the United States.
“This is not liberal, this is an American issue,” said Ruby, who has generally voted Republican but opposed some candidates for their immigration positions. Ruby said his position draws from his Christian faith as well as practical matters for the future of the United States.
He said the current immigration system creates a loss of talent, as students from overseas study science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields at U.S. colleges and universities but have difficulty staying after earning their degrees.
Immigrants can make jobs, not take them, Ruby said, a point echoed by the two other speakers. Josh Davda, president and CEO of Optimum Technology, came to the United States as an immigrant student more than 50 years ago. Now his Columbus-based software company has created more than 1,000 jobs, and built the Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway and a program used to track pharmaceutical prescriptions nationally.
Davda, who became a U.S. citizen, said his immigrant employees haven’t taken any jobs from any workers born in the U.S. or been welfare recipients, saying it is important to challenge negative perceptions of immigrants. He asked where life would be today without iPhones or Google, saying they were made by the son of a Syrian immigrant and a Jewish refugee from Russia.
Pat Valente, president of The International Entrepreneur Ohio, also spoke on the need to retain “the best and the brightest” immigrant college students, particularly in the STEM fields. He said students born in the U.S. generally aren’t as likely to enter those areas, creating a need for workers, and that the country is not ready “at all” for an expected spike in the number of retiring workers over the next 10 to 15 years.
If these positions can’t be filled, Valente said, companies may move to a different state or out of the country. He also noted that immigrants make up a significant number of Ohio’s doctors and surgeons.
“Today’s global economy relies on the spirit of immigrant entrepreneurship and problem solving,” he said. Answering questions from the media, Valente said others can get involved by talking to legislators and get companies involved as well.
Valente also said that proponents of immigration reform also need to emphasize that the United States is “a nation of immigrants.”
In further detailing the group’s goals, Ruby said that it is a “false choice” to say that ensuring border security and comprehensive immigration reform are mutually exclusive; rather, border security should be a part of the reform. He went on to say that he is optimistic that President Donald Trump will support reform efforts after his work on border security, due to his business background and the role of immigrants in his businesses.
“He understands the value of immigrant labor,” Ruby said, also noting that there are some jobs that U.S. citizens will not take. Seeing that in Clark County led him to get involved in the immigration movement, he said.
Despite Ruby’s optimism, all three said they did not like some of the rhetoric that has emerged nationally regarding immigrants, with Valente noting it may make some hesitant to come to the United States. In February, two tech workers from India were shot, one fatally, in a Kansas bar. The shooting is being investigated as a hate crime by the FBI and the White House has condemned it as “racially motivated hatred.”

Story originally published in The Hannah Report on March 15, 2017.  Copyright 2017 Hannah News Service, Inc.

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