Findlay Mayor Christina Muryn is addressing what she says is misinformation being spread about the city’s growing immigrant population.
Mayor Muryn says the majority of the individuals are here legally and trying to make a better life for themselves.
“And we are trying to wrap our arms around them to help integrate them into our community while recognizing that it can be really intimidating to come to a new country.”
Mayor Muryn says our community is changing “and that’s a positive thing, but we also need to make sure that we’re helping grow in an appropriate fashion.”
Read Mayor Muryn’s full letter to the community below.
Over the past year, we have seen growth in immigrants coming to Findlay and across the State of Ohio. I have answered many emails and phone calls on this topic and addressed it at various community forums but I believe it needs further attention given the continued misinformation being spread online.
I want to first share why I have not written an article on this topic previously. In short, I did not believe calling out a group of legal individuals in our community just because they looked different, sounded different, or were congregated was appropriate. I still do not, however, I also can no longer stand by and allow rumors to inappropriately create a narrative around these individuals.
Today, I want to touch on a couple of topics. These are all complex issues so I will try to keep them brief but please know that there is much more being done than what I touch on. Currently, a group of approximately 40 different local agencies including schools, government, private businesses, faith leaders, and non-profits are working together to establish a formal coalition to support the settlement and integration of this growing population. There are approximately 250 workers, plus some family members.
- Legality: The immigrants that we see in our community are largely here through an organization called First Diversity Staffing (see The Courier Article “Migrant Workers help Findlay factory flourish” April 22, 2023, by Denise Grant). These immigrants are here legally and have gone through background screening through the Department of Homeland Security. Many of them have located here because they have family ties (perhaps they spent time here working farms previously), work opportunities, or heard that Hancock County is a great community to be a part of. In the event the Findlay Police Department interacts with an individual that is unable to provide appropriate documentation they take the necessary steps based upon the interaction to resolve it. This could be helping them get replacement paperwork by connecting them with the immigration office, getting a copy of their driver’s license from another state, or in a few minor situations notifying the United States Office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. I would like to note here that our Police Department has had few interactions most of which have been traffic violations.
- Language: Language is certainly the largest barrier that we are working to resolve. We are in discussions with a few different translators or translation services to help in translating for the employers and agencies and also establish a process to help these new community members learn English. A huge thank you to Mission Possible and the Findlay-Hancock County Public Library who have begun classes to help.
- Housing: Currently the immigrant workers are living primarily in hotels. This is mainly because there is not sufficient housing available for them to rent AND because they are newly in the country they do not have sufficient background information available to landlords to feel comfortable renting to them. Due to this limited housing availability hotels are their best temporary solution (though not sustainable long term) or some are driving in from surrounding communities.
- Social Services: We have seen some of the immigrants utilizing our local nonprofit organizations. We are currently wrapping our arms around this to better understand how we can help educate them on when utilizing a social service is necessary and when it is not. Overall, we are primarily seeing them use services for their young children to get wellness checks, as well as learning the appropriate laws and getting the needed resources such as cribs, diapers, formula, car seats, etc.
The last topic I want to touch on is community. If you have ever traveled to a foreign country that did not speak English I am sure you have experienced that extreme unease which comes from not understanding, not being able to communicate, and the uncertainty if you are going to be able to get around. I know when I have traveled even for just short periods of time (2-3 weeks) that it was extremely stressful. I cannot imagine moving to an entirely foreign country, trying to create a safe life for yourself, and trying to learn the language. That is why my last topic is so critically important. They have primarily fled from countries where gang violence and corrupt governments ruled and where hope was scarce. They are now in a place where there is hope and safety but they still do not know the language, the culture, who they can trust, etc. This is where we all come in. We must find the balance of making them feel welcome while also giving them space. That is why we have established the coalition to be able to target resources, work with some of their community leaders, and help them feel welcome. If you are interested in helping out I would encourage you to reach out to a local nonprofit that you are interested in or reach out to me at [email protected] so that I may connect you. I would also ask that you not feel entitled to approach their community directly to “help” but rather do so through one of the nonprofits or organizations that has been building a relationship with them.
I am excited to see how these new residents add to our community and hopeful that as we all learn and grow together our lives will be enriched with diversity, culture, and appreciation that in Findlay, Ohio there is an opportunity to live the American dream.
As always, if you have questions, comments, or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me directly at 419-424-7137 or via email at [email protected].0