Central Ohio Benefits from Immigrants

The following was submitted to the Dispatch on July 12, 2013 for publication as a Letter to the Editor, and was published in the July 18, 2013 edition.

To the Editor:

We are a nation of immigrants. Franklin County has witnessed a dramatic increase in the number of immigrant residents in the past 20 years, and is now home to more than 100,000 foreign-born residents who represent 9% of our overall population. More than half of these new neighbors have come in the last 10 years, and our region now ranks second in the nation in percentage of new foreign-born residents. There are 644 foreign-owned businesses from 37 countries in central Ohio, employing more than 39,000 people.

Over the same time period, the economic impact of immigrants in Ohio has grown even more dramatically.  In 2012, the purchasing power of Ohio Latinos reached $8.2 billion and that of Ohio Asians $9.7 billion, both over a 400% increase.  Asian-owned businesses supported more than 50,000 jobs and Latino-owned companies more than 11,500.

Ohio is a stronger, better, more prosperous place to live because of our immigrant residents. They are our friends, neighbors, and co-workers. They are men and women, gay and straight, young and old, affluent and poor. They worship in many houses and in many ways. Their origins, like those of our own grandparents and great-grandparents, are far apart, yet their spirits and hopes are the same – for freedom, safety, opportunity, diversity, and acceptance.

Our nation deserves a comprehensive and holistic immigration policy that acknowledges border security and strengthens our labor force at all levels, from manual and farm laborers to high-tech and highly-educated professionals. Such a policy must also recognize the enormous contribution of immigrants to our social fabric, reunite rather than rend families, and allow a clear, fair, and safe path for currently undocumented people to achieve legal residence.

The immigration reform recently passed by a bipartisan majority in the U.S. Senate and currently being considered by the House will fix our outdated immigration system. Please join with me in urging the Ohio Congressional delegation to give it their full support and see to its quick passage.

Sincerely,

Marilyn Brown, Franklin County Commissioner