Cincinnati council seeks to make city more welcoming to immigrants

Goal is to attract more newcomers

CINCINNATI - If Cincinnati wants to be a strong competitor in the global economy, the city must do a better job of attracting and welcoming immigrants to the community, city leaders said Wednesday.

That's the idea behind a resolution introduced to City Council Wednesday by Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls and Council member Yvette Simpson. It was passed unanimously.

The resolution calls on the United States Congress and Obama administration to pass and enact comprehensive immigration reform legislation this year that "includes a pathway to citizenship for all aspiring citizens."

It also calls on the city, other local governments in Ohio and Ohio General Assembly to "more fully welcome the participation of immigrants in the vitality of the state and our respective communities."

The resolution is largely symbolic, but it has real meaning, said Alfonso Cornejo, president of the Hispanic Chamber Cincinnati USA.

"Symbolism is important," Cornejo said. "We need to at least send a message that you are welcome here and then be sure that we really treat them well when they come."

Cornejo was among a number of speakers who voiced support for the resolution during a news conference at Cincinnati City Hall prior to council's weekly meeting. Other organizations in support of the resolution include the Metropolitan Area Religious Coalition of Cincinnati, the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 75 and the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

"Too many undocumented residents are hiding in the shadows in fear," said Tony Stieritz, the archdiocese's director of Catholic Social Action.

Added Cincinnati Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, "A fair reasonable pathway to citizenship is something that's fundamental and fundamentally needed at this stage."

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