Many in the Columbus community say the voice and passion of Ruben Herrera will be missed.
Lair Marin-Marcum, who is the President of the Columbus Hispanic Chamber, is one of them and said Ruben was someone she could always count on.
“I think we have lost the first, huge, Hispanic activist here in the state of Ohio at such a grade that it will be very difficult to replace him,” said Marin-Marcum. “Whenever you needed some help, when you needed some advice on how to help somebody who was in any type of immigration problem we would definitely reach out to Ruben.”
His sudden death a few days ago has left a huge hole in the community he lived in and loved.
Ruben was a key organizer with Columbus Sanctuary Collective, an organization that actively supports immigrants and refugees.
Herrera was pivotal in getting the stories of Edith Espinal and Miriam Vargas out to the public during a time when the topic of sanctuary cities was making headlines across the country.
“He was relentless. He would make you angry many times by making you see the ethical importance of things,” said Marin-Marcum.
City leaders also noticed his relentless nature.
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther sent NBC4 this statement:
“I am deeply saddened at the passing of Ruben Castilla Herrera, a committed and passionate voice for the betterment of Columbus. We did not always see eye to eye, but we shared a mutual respect. I pray for his family and friends and ask others in the community to do the same.”
Pastor Joel Miller with the Columbus Mennonite Church says Ruben’s fight isn’t over.
He adds Ruben always wanted true Sanctuary.
“He talked about being sanctuary people,” said Miller. “He talked about sanctuary in the streets. So how do we care for each other and show up for each other.”