Springfield Pastor Carl Ruby Wednesday announced plans to form an Ohio arm of the group FWD.US, a national advocacy group seeking immigration reform.
The national group is backed by several technology company leaders, including Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook. Ruby serves as the Senior Pastor of Central Christian Church and Executive Director of Welcome Springfield.
At a statehouse news conference, Ruby, called for Congress to consider more than border security in the immigration debate.
“It is a false choice to have to choose between border security and immigration policy that welcomes skilled immigrants and that allows people to come out of the shadows and to become taxpayers. It is not one or the other. We have to address all of it,” Ruby said.
Formation of the group comes just as President Donald Trump’s administration’s travel ban faces legal challenges from multiple states. It puts a temporary halt on travel from six Muslim majority countries, although it permits travel by people who already have a visa to come to the U.S.
At the Columbus kickoff, Pat Valenti, executive director of the Ohio Fuel Cell Corridor, a non-profit organization promoting fuel cell development in the state, voiced his support. Valenti wants a change in immigration policies to allow foreign-born scientists to stay in the U.S. longer after they complete their degree work at universities here. “I see the need for immigrants in science and technology. It’s incredible in the amount of people we need to still prosper as a global leader and that is really important.”
Using Springfield as an example, Ruby said most people may not realize the contribution immigrants make to the Clark County economy. “We would be in severe trouble in our hospital if we did not have foreign born physicians caring for people in Springfield, Ohio. If we didn’t have Dole Foods in Ohio, a company that employs about 600 people, mostly immigrants, that would be a huge cut to the tax base,” Ruby said.
Dr. Rosaire Ifedi, a native of Nigeria who now teaches at Ashland University, said immigrants with technical skills should be welcomed to the U.S. and be permitted to stay here to contribute to the economy. “They are not taking people’s jobs. They are not here to do bad things. But they are here to build the state of Ohio,” Ifedi said.