An Ohio sheriff known for taking extreme steps to crack down on undocumented immigrants and a Republican state representative are urging the state to pass an immigration law similar to the controversial one in Arizona.
Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones and state House Rep. Courtney Combs have sent a letter to Ohio Governor Ted Strickland asking him to pass a law that “mirrors” the one in Arizona, reports WLWT channel 5 in Cincinnati.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Our federal government has failed us when it comes to securing the border and stopping the flow of thousands of illegals entering this country on a daily basis,” WLWT quoted Rep. Jones as saying. “If the federal government wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t do it, it is time that states take that responsibility upon themselves.”
Arizona’s law allows police to stop and question anyone they suspect of being an illegal immigrant, even if they don’t suspect that person of any other wrongdoing. Critics say the bill will lead to racial profiling, and some commentators have even compared the measure to race-based laws in Nazi Germany.
For Sheriff Jones, the push to allow police greater powers to combat illegal immigration may be partly personal. Last week, his office paid $100,000 to settle a lawsuit brought against Jones by a man who said he was unconstitutionally detained by deputies during a 2007 illegal immigrant raid on a construction site.
According to the Hamilton, Ohio, Journal-News, Luis Rodriguez had been living in Ohio for 11 years when he was arrested by Jones’ deputies, charged with providing false identification, and deported to Mexico. The charges against Rodriguez were later dropped.
In a 2006 profile of Butler, Right Wing Watch described the sheriff as “running his own personal campaign against undocumented immigrants. … HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s taken out newspaper ads, he put up six billboards in the area with his personage warning ‘Hire an IllegalÃ¢â‚¬â€Break the Law!’ and he even started his own blog on the web site of the sheriffÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s office to organize a boycott of businesses that hire undocumented immigrants.”
Rep. Combs, a Republican whose district includes the Cincinnati suburb of Hamilton, also has a track record of fighting undocumented immigrants. Last year he introduced a bill that would require employers to check the Social Security numbers of new employees to ensure they are in the US legally.
“Combs said in May 2009 the bill [is] about giving jobs to Americans and taking away a paycheck from illegal immigrants during tough economic times,” the Dayton Daily News reports.
WLWT reports that Combs and Jones hope to travel to Arizona to meet with Gov. Jan Brewer, who signed the state’s immigration bill into law last week.
Since the Arizona law came into force, it has been criticized by commentators and politicians who believe it goes too far. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who was Arizona’s governor until last year, has said her department will “review” the law. Mexican President Felipe Calderon has said the law will lead to racial discrimination and hate, and his government has issued a travel warning for Arizona. Even Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham has said he believes the law may be unconstitutional.