- By Parker Perry Staff Writer
Attracting immigrants to the area is crucial to the future success of Springfield and Clark County, a local church leader and advocate said.
But it’s critical that borders are protected and illegal immigration stopped, said a local Congressman and a Trump supporter group leader.
Carl Ruby, pastor at Central Christian Church and executive director for Welcome Springfield, spoke to the Springfield Rotary Club this week and said his church is working with other groups to make the community a place where immigrants feel safe to come and live. That includes working with Spanish-speaking church Emanuel Iglesia Hispania and researching how other churches have offered sanctuary to those facing deportation.
“We are trying to make the most out of immigration in Clark County,” he said. “It is important we view immigration as an asset and opportunity, not as a threat.”
It’s no secret that Clark County’s population has dipped over the past 20 years, Ruby said, and projections show that more people are likely to move away than move in. He believes Clark County can attract more immigrants into the county to help offset the decline.
Immigrants have played a large role in the success of Springfield for a long time, Ruby said, and he hopes to see that continue.
“We exist to educate people in Clark County about these trends,” he said. “It is part of our purpose in our organization.”
U.S. Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Troy, represents Springfield and has been a leading voice for stopping illegal immigration. His website says it’s important to secure the borders and stop the flow of illegal immigrants.
“This is non-negotiable,” his site says. “We must prioritize resources for strengthening security at our borders, including funding for increased land, sea and air surveillance, and beefing up customs and border patrol. Without secure borders, we risk new waves of illegal immigration, an influx of drugs and crime, and most dangerously, potential terrorists who seek to take advantage of our lax border enforcement.
“Next, we must end perverse incentives that make the illegal immigration problems worse,” his site says. “Birthright citizenship and funding for sanctuary cities must be ended.”
Ruby agreed that it’s critical to secure the borders but said it’s important to remember that it’s tougher to get into the country legally than it ever has been before.
“One thing that a lot of people are unaware of is how dramatically immigration has changed,” he said. “During the Ellis Island years, an immigrant could arrive at Ellis Island with their documentation. They were asked for a birth certificate, 29 questions, the whole process took about three hours and 98 percent of the people who applied were admitted.
“We now use an immigration system that was designed in 1965, it is not working very well. For certain segments, there are not ways to come here legally.”
Laura Rosenberger, who headed the local Donald Trump supporter’s group during the election and is a member of the 10th District Republican Women’s Club, said she believes the immigration process is broken and the president is trying to fix it. She said it’s important for America to stop the flow of immigration to protect citizens and the immigrants, too.
“We are not against legal immigration, just illegal immigration,” she said. “We have no way of knowing who they are. It’s also very dangerous for the illegals themselves. A lot of them get killed, A lot of the women get raped and kids are kidnapped and used for trafficking. It’s not safe for the illegals.”
Legal immigrants should be welcomed into the community, Rosenberger said, as they have always been.