LOGAN — Congressman Steve Stivers made a stop at The Logan Daily News after touring the new Hocking Hills Visitors Center at Hocking Hills State Park.
The topic discussed was mainly concerned with issues related to immigration, and Stivers’ efforts with the Special Immigration Visa (SIV) Program.
The SIV was created specifically for foreigners who served alongside U.S. troops as interpreters or other support staff. The number has fluctuated on how many foreigners can capitalize on this in past years but Stivers is trying to add 8,000 additional slots for this immigration visa.
He met the family of an interpreter, who applied for the visa, at a refugee roundtable in Columbus. This man’s family began to receive threats, which is why they moved to the United States.
“It is hard to get slots for these visas and he has not received a slot yet,” Stivers said. “So, he had to move to Australia because his life was being threatened. As a member of the military, myself, for 34 years, the value of these interpreters in Iraq and Afghanistan was immeasurable and we owe them a debt of safety and security.”
In the recent past, Stivers also worked with The Afghan Allies Protection Amendments Act of 2018, which permitted Afghans who have supported the United States mission in Afghanistan and face threats as a result of their service to apply for refuge in the United States.
The bill’s goal is to extend the Afghan SIV program for the next fiscal year and take additional steps to strengthen Afghan SIV processing and vetting. U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen introduced the Senate measure along with Senator Cory Gardner.
Stivers said people of Logan, and overall, the people he serves within the 15th District, care about immigration issues because jobs and opportunities are important.
“We need to have an immigration program that works and we need to have an economy that is thriving,” he added. “We have huge shortages at the no skill and high skill areas and immigration can help with those, keeping our economy moving.”
He believes those who don’t care, should because of each person’s own heritage.
“I’m not an American Indian, you don’t look like an American Indian; we’re all immigrants at one point if you go back far enough,” Stivers exclaimed. “We’re a country of immigrants and we need to make sure our country continues to be a light and beacon of hope around the world and that is what immigration is and does.”
To get a first-hand experience of immigration from Mexico, Stivers is taking a trip to El Paso, Texas in the upcoming weeks. Before he leaves, he still has some issues he is taking on here at home.
One of the issues he is taking on is lack of high speed Internet for certain areas. He wants Southeast Ohio to bridge the digital divide that he feels is affecting economic opportunities, healthcare, education.
In Hocking County, he is focusing more on the education.
“Thirty-seven percent of the students go on to higher education,” Stivers stated. “That means 63 percent don’t and there is not a very good career and technical path for the majority of the students who aren’t going to go on to college, but there are some programs that are being initiated to help.”
Next Thursday at Hocking College, Stivers will be a part of a drug roundtable discussion.