COLUMBUS, Ohio — While President Donald Trump works to build a wall on the country's southern border, Ohio Gov. John Kasich says he wants to break down barriers for legal immigrants.
Kasich wants to make it easier for legal immigrants to find jobs in Ohio, creating a new "Office for Opportunities for New Americans" through executive order Tuesday. The office would be a one-stop shop for immigrants looking for job training, information about doctors or details about schools.
The services are aimed at legal immigrants, but they won't be checking immigration status.
The effort is the latest in Kasich's moves to distance himself from Trump on a hotly debated topic in GOP politics: immigration.
“At a time when Americans are all worked up about immigration, I believe that immigration is a good thing,” Kasich said.
Kasich has repeatedly welcomed immigrants to Ohio, a state with a significantly smaller immigrant population than others nationwide. By adding immigrants, Ohio could help fend off sluggish population growth in the state, Kasich said.
“We want them to bring their skills. We want them to bring their families, and we want them to bring their hearts,” Kasich said.
Ohio's 513,592 legal immigrants comprise 4.4 percent of the state's population, according to a recent Cleveland State University review. Nationwide, immigrants comprise nearly 14 percent of America's population.
Many Ohio immigrants are college-educated: 42.1 percent of Ohio's foreign-born residents have a four-year degree or higher, compared with 26.7 percent of native-born Ohioans with such degrees.
About 4,000 of Ohio's immigrants are children brought to the country illegally but allowed to stay through former president Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Trump rescinded the order last fall, leaving the program in the hands of the divided U.S. Congress. Kasich has chastised members of Congress for moving too slowly on a fix.
Kasich supports U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo's effort to force a vote on DACA and encouraged Ohio's members of Congress to join the Florida Republican and do the same.
"Wouldn’t it be great if Congress could actually do something?"
Follow Jessie Balmert on Twitter: @jbalmert