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Cleveland, OH — Today, Governor John Kasich announced the creation of an historic Office for New Americans, a statewide expression along the lines of local initiatives lead by the city of Dayton and other Ohio communities. Following is a statement from Lynn Tramonte, Director of America’s Voice Ohio:
I applaud Governor Kasich for using his clout to shine a light on the way that immigrants contribute to our great state. This is a pragmatic and practical approach, but it’s also a moral one.
The future of our state depends on retaining and and attracting talent from across Ohio and all corners of the globe. Being more open to talented and hardworking immigrants will add to Ohio’s consumer and tax base, as well as bolster entrepreneurship and job creation that benefit us all.
Previously Governor Kasich had welcomed Dreamers to Ohio, and now he’s extending the welcome mat even further. Having brought immigrant-led families to meet with Governor Kasich on two occasions, I believe that he understands native-born Ohioans and Ohio immigrants share many values. We all want to live in safe communities, raise our families, and be paid decently for our hard work.
Unfortunately, though, we live in a climate and a state where racial profiling is unchecked and rampant. Encouraged by the Trump Administration’s “unshackled” deportation agents, the highway patrol and local law enforcement officers now act as though it is their mission to find and deport undocumented workers who have committed no crime.
The ICE office in Detroit is now deporting people who have lived here for decades and have valid work permits, simply to drive up their statistics. Every day we are seeing Ohio families ripped apart because ICE refuses to exercise basic human decency in individual deportation cases. American children and spouses are bearing the brunt of this trauma, as two-parent households are abruptly divided across a far-away border.
The state can play a constructive role in at least two ways: 1) by instructing the Ohio State Highway Patrol and local law enforcement to do their jobs–enforce traffic and criminal laws–instead of acting like arms of the federal immigration police. And 2) making it possible for all drivers on Ohio roads to train, test for, and receive legal drivers permits. Twelve states across the US, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have already done so, and several others are currently considering it.
It is significant that Governor Kasich is taking this step at a time when the leader of his own Party, Donald Trump, is driving the GOP along a completely different route. The fact is, though, the country is not as anti-immigration as Donald Trump seems to think. Many Americans realize that Trump’s rhetoric about immigrants is just dog-whistle politics designed to further divide our society, at a time we need leaders who are able to unite us.
The idea of America is not about one race, religion, or ethnic origin. It’s about people with diverse backgrounds and experiences coming together around a set of shared goals and values. The sooner we understand and embrace this in Ohio, the better off we will be.