Advocates: Central Ohio immigrants need assistance
"For the solution in the different barriers that we have, we need to collaborate," Asfaw said.
Doctor Seleshi Asfaw is the founder and president of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church Social Services center which helps Ethiopian families get the services they need after immigrating to the area. He and two other advocated spoke at the Columbus Metropolitan Club forum. Estimates are there are more than 83-thousand foreign born people living in Franklin County. Asfaw said more immigrant-based organizations are needed because they serve as a gateway between immigrants and traditional social services.
"Because they know the culture, they know the language. And they know all the community's make up. So the trust is there," Asfaw.
There's a bill in the Ohio House that would make the state's official language English. Opponents of the bill say that would make it much more difficult for immigrants to obtain documents like medical records. Rachel McIntosh, of The Capacity Building Initiative: Immigrant and Refugee Organizations, said the English only bill is archaic.
"Certainly if we're looking at English only bills, that's behind the times. I mean, how many Metropolitan Club lunches have there been talking about this is a global economy. And if we're only speaking one language then we're not going to be able to tap into a whole lot of business opportunities. So, let's not squelch that by requiring only English, so," McIntosh said.
Other discussions included some of the greatest misconceptions about immigrants, one being that immigrants want to take away jobs from U.S. citizens. Wadwa argues that is NOT the case. She says immigrants want to contribute to the community and create more jobs, NOT take them away.