The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper


This past Wednesday, the Welcome Toledo-Lucas Country Initiative held a forum to discuss an ongoing project to make the area more welcoming to immigrants.

Toledo has always been accepting of people of other cultures, so for some, it’s not about starting fresh, but continuing with and improving on what’s already here.

“This is getting our community back to where we started. It’s a new idea that’s an old idea,” said Pete Gerken, Lucas County Commissioner. “We’re great, we’re still great, but I think we can be even better. And what worked before was immigrant ingenuity. Almost everyone came from somewhere, at some point.”

Cindy Geronimo, Vice President of the Lucas County Land Bank, echoed this idea. “We have a long history of welcoming immigrants. We’re already involved in this.”

The forum included members of the community who were encouraged to speak freely and openly about their experiences, both good and bad.

Some of the thoughts expressed came from people who came to Toledo as immigrants. One woman spoke of her experience getting cancer very young and having to handle doctors when her parents couldn’t speak a word of English. Another man described the hardships and discrimination he faced when he came to this country many years ago.

There were also many concerns about the project. Several people expressed worry that those coming may not contribute, that we might be “immigrating poverty,” or could become a “sanctuary city.”

Cindy Geronimo countered this, saying what a benefit immigrants can be to cities, and how more often than not, they come with the skills and the mindset that Toledo needs to grow. “Immigrants are risk takers,” she said. “Sixty percent of immigrants will start a business.”

Other concerns didn’t involve the immigrants themselves, but the Initiative.

“Have we not been welcoming?” said one attendee. “I’m honestly offended that (the Welcome Toledo-Lucas County Initiative) would suggest East Toledo isn’t being welcoming.”

“We’re not saying that you haven’t been welcoming,” said Geronimo. “We want to be a diverse community. We have an awareness. It’s not something that’s going to happen, we already recognize that it’s there.”

Suggestions were made as to how to be a more opening community to immigrants. One of these included having access to language programs to help immigrants learn English more quickly, both for adults, but also within the Toledo Public School system. Others talked about being proactive on a more individual level, welcoming immigrant neighbors, finding ways to include them in the community. And many already see this attitude in practice.

“People care about the community,” said Jodi Gross of The East Toledo Family Center. “We just have to showcase that (East Toledoans) want to help.”

The benefits of having immigrants in the area are already apparent. Immigrants have a $92 million impact on our local economy. But aside from the economic benefits, they also bring new perspectives.

“(While working at Jeep) it was such a joy to interact with people that weren’t like me, that had different ideas from me,” said Pete Gerken.

The people may come here from somewhere else, but they’re Toledoans, like anyone else.

“I came to this country by choice,” said one attendee, an immigrant himself. “And I love this country by choice.”


Universal Income

What do you think of presidential candidate Andrew Yang's proposal for a universal basic income of $1,000 per month for every adult?
2051866732 [{"id":"323","title":"It will help millions of people who are increasingly losing their jobs to automation.","votes":"0","pct":"0","type":"x","order":"1","resources":[]},{"id":"324","title":"No, if the proposal is paid for by tax payers.","votes":"0","pct":"0","type":"x","order":"2","resources":[]},{"id":"325","title":"Yes, if billionaires pay for it, as labor costs disappear due to automation.","votes":"0","pct":"0","type":"x","order":"3","resources":[]}] ["#194e84","#3b6b9c","#1f242a","#37414a","#60bb22","#f2babb"] sbar 160 160 /component/communitypolls/vote/118-universal-income No answer selected. Please try again. Thank you for your vote. Answers Votes ...