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Kasich creates new office to help immigrants

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    Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a former 2016 Republican Presidential hopeful, smiles as he addresses a gathering during a visit to New England College in Henniker, N.H., Tuesday, April 3, 2018. Kasich restored Ohio's membership in the National Governors Association as he seeks to shore up credibility for bipartisan deal-making that could bolster a 2020 bid for president.

    AP

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    Guisselle Mendoza McDonald is a steering board member for the Welcome Toledo-Lucas County Initiative, which welcomes newly-arrived immigrants and refugees.

    The Blade/Katie Rausch
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Kasich-2020-1

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a former 2016 Republican Presidential hopeful, smiles as he addresses a gathering during a visit to New England College in Henniker, N.H., Tuesday, April 3, 2018. Kasich restored Ohio's membership in the National Governors Association as he seeks to shore up credibility for bipartisan deal-making that could bolster a 2020 bid for president.

AP Enlarge

COLUMBUS — Gov. John Kasich on Tuesday signed an executive order to focus state efforts on helping legal immigrants find work, learn, and otherwise find their way into life in Ohio.

Even as he chastised members of Congress for failing to find a solution to the problem of people brought year years ago illegally as children, his administration made it clear this effort targets and welcomes legal immigrants.

“We want them to bring their skills,” Mr. Kasich said. “We want them to bring their families, and we want them bring their hearts, because they are such an important part of the energy here in the Buckeye State. We’re trying to make it easier for all of them.”

The effort, designed to coordinate existing jobs and other programs within the Development Services Agency, to help immigrants with basic elements of life such as finding jobs, getting driver’s licenses, and surmounting language barriers.

“This is focused on legal immigrants, and we are assuming that the services we are giving out will be accessed by legal immigrants. But I do not foresee this office checking for documentation,” said Padmini Roy-Dixon, an immigrant from India who has lived in Ohio since 2007.

She is chief of DSA’s Business Services Section.

Guisselle Mendoza McDonald is director of operations for the Lucas County Treasurer’s office and a steering board member for the Welcome Toledo-Lucas County Initiative, which works to welcome newly arrived immigrants and refugees. She watched as Mr. Kasich signed the order.

She came from Nicaragua, has been in Ohio more than 20 years, and became a U.S. citizen two years ago.

“In the treasurer’s office in particular, people are wanting to pay taxes, which for you and I is something normal,” Ms. McDonald said. “It may not be for them. They don’t know the process. They don’t have an idea of the procedure, and they may have a language barrier. I speak Spanish, and I am there to help people with that.”

Mr. Kasich’s office creates the Office of Opportunities for New Americans within DSA to reach out to immigrant communities to help bring down barriers. It also creates a 12-member New Americans Advisory Committee, to be made up of members from those communities who will undertake a listening tour in hopes of identifying what those barriers are.

A new website, www.NewAmericans.Ohio.Gov, would help to steer new arrivals in their direction.

Mr. Kasich, a former congressman, applauded an effort by some fellow Republicans in Washington to force a vote on a solution to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), or Dreamers, problem.

Congress has been unable to reach a solution on putting those brought illegally here as children by their parents on a path to legal status. He urged Republican members of Congress from Ohio to get on board.

“Wouldn’t it be great if Congress could actually do something, that they could begin to actually resolve this problem of immigration,” Mr. Kasich said. “We’re not going to put 11, 12 million people on a yellow school bus and ship them to the border. We have to get them in position where they have some sort of status.”

Contact Jim Provance at jprovance@theblade.com or 614-221-0496.

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