Ohio Senate votes to toughen immigration law enforcement
By Laura A. Bischoff
The Dayton Daily News (OH), March 24, 2010
Columbus — Taking aim at undocumented foreign workers, Senate Republicans on Wednesday, March 24, voted for a pair of bills that give local police and sheriffs a greater role in enforcing federal immigration laws.
The Senate voted largely along party lines 21-11 in favor of a bill sponsored that directs the state attorney general to seek an agreement with federal officials to allow specially-trained local police and sheriffs to enforce federal immigration laws.
State Sen. Jimmy Stewart, R-Athens, said the bill would give Ohio the ability to address a growing problem while the federal government does little to fix the immigration system.
State Sen. Sue Morano, D-Lorain, opposed the bill, saying sheriffs departments are already too busy handling current responsibilities such as checking on sex offenders.
'This state is made up of immigrants. We should not forget this at all. Unfortunately, the hysteria over immigration is nothing new,' she said.
State Sen. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, said the bill allows local police to work with federal authorities but does not require it. The program also provides training, he said.
The second immigration bill, sponsored by state Sen. Gary Cates, R-West Chester, passed 22-10, also largely along party lines. Cates bill would authorize county sheriffs to help federal officials investigate and detain violators of immigration laws when federal authorities ask for assistance.
David Leopold, a Cleveland attorney and president-elect of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, called both bills political grandstanding that will do nothing to make Ohio safer or fix the countrys broken immigration system. He said states that have gotten into the immigration enforcement business have found themselves swamped with costs.
'Rather than running around and arresting undocumented workers, they ought to be running around and really looking carefully at the employers who are not following the law,' Leopold said.
It is unclear how many undocumented immigrant workers are in Ohio.
Both bills now move to the Ohio House for consideration.