Mar 29, 2022 - News

Rising immigrant population shows need for local aid

Immigrants in Ohio, by country of origin
Data: American Community Survey/U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Local officials are rolling out a new plan today to better welcome immigrants and refugees relocating to the Columbus area.

Why it matters: Central Ohio has more foreign-born residents than any other region in the state, Census data shows, and that population keeps growing.

By the numbers: Around 150,000 residents of Franklin County (11% of the population) were born outside the U.S., the highest total of any Ohio county.

  • That percentage is even higher in Columbus — 12.8%.
  • Statewide, just 4.6% of Ohio residents are foreign-born.

State of play: Local governments partner with many nonprofit organizations to help these residents navigate life in a new city, including Columbus' "New American Initiative" .

  • Aid has ramped up in the past few years, between providing emergency rental assistance during the pandemic and supporting Afghan refugees.

Yes, but: Our immigrant population still faces a variety of barriers in navigating a complex social services network, Ohio State University researchers studying the initiative found in 2018.

  • Besides the language barrier — around one-in-six Columbus residents speak a language other than English at home — there are documentation, monetary and technological hurdles to overcome.

What they're saying: Another frequent issue is the lack of bilingual services for medical and mental health care.

  • "I am hopeful that the final plan outlines concrete action steps, with funding to support them, so that even better integration is possible," Angie Plummer, executive director of local group Community Refugee & Immigration Services, tells Axios.

What's next: We'll bring you more specifics tomorrow after the noon announcement.

Foreign-born population in Ohio, by county
Data: American Community Survey/U.S. Census Bureau; Map: Will Chase/Axios
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