COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Fear. That’s what local immigrants said they feel going into the presidential election. Now they’re mobilizing to get more than 100,000 central Ohio immigrants to the polls by Election Day.
“Go back to your country,” is one of the many hurtful things local immigrants recounted people have said to them during this election cycle.
“The political rhetoric is increasingly worrisome about refugees and immigrants,” said Seleshi Ayalew Asfaw with the New Citizens Advocacy Coalition.
Wednesday night the coalition made up of people from Syria, Ethiopia, Vietnam, Nepal and other countries met to help mobilize their communities to vote by Election Day.
“Get people to be active in their communities because we’re part of the change that is coming because America’s face is changing,” said Ibrahima Sow with the coalition.
Immigrants face many challenges when voting- from getting to the polls to reading the ballot.
“One is a transportation problem and second is when they got to voting machines the machines are really complicated,” said Asfaw.
For the past month Burhan Ahmed with the Center for Somali American Engagement and volunteers have tried to eliminate some of those barriers by driving and helping register 5,000 Somalians.
“Every day. Every single day, afternoons after I get off my work I came and volunteered,” said Ahmed.
Until November 8th he said he’ll be taking people back to the Franklin County Board of Elections to vote.
“This election is important for us,” he said.
These new citizens said their voices will be heard.
“We’re here and we’re here to stay and we’re going to participate,” said Sow.
According to the American Immigration Council nearly half of all immigrants in Ohio in 2013 were naturalized US citizens meaning they are eligible to vote.