Lawmakers want to make Ohio a ‘sanctuary state’

Effort from Democrats - though not likely to get far - in response to plan to punish ‘sanctuary cities’ that are immigrant-friendly.

A proposal to punish city officials who name their communities “Sanctuary Cities” is already prompting a pushback from Democrats and a political fundraising pitch by Republican Josh Mandel.

On Monday, Mandel, who is running again for U.S. Senate, and state Rep. Candice Keller, R-Middletown, announced a bill to hold elected city officials civilly and criminally liable if undocumented immigrants in sanctuary cities injure or kill someone.

Within hours, Mandel fired off a fundraising email for his Senate campaign, saying: “I served in the Marines. I know what it is to defend our Constitution. Sanctuary cities must be stopped. I’m going to the Senate to stop it.”

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On Tuesday, Democratic state Reps. Dan Ramos of Lorain and Stephanie Howse of Cleveland announced they’ll introduce legislation to make Ohio a “sanctuary state” and Ramos criticized Mandel and Keller, saying they “seem to be using the same dog whistles as President Trump. Blurring the lines between undocumented immigrants and refugees, which are in no way the same.”

Ramos called the Keller bill untenable, unenforceable, unconstitutional and ridiculous.

Ramos blasted Keller for saying that immigrants spread sexually transmitted disease and he tied her remarks to Donald Trump calling Mexicans rapists and drug dealers during the presidential campaign.

“Completely unfounded. Racist and prejudice remarks. Saying that immigrants bring sexually transmitted disease, this is something else that my colleague said, Rep. Keller. That’s a classic one, isn’t it? They’re dirty. They’re diseased. Anti-immigrant prejudiced people have been saying that thing forever,” Ramos said.

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Ramos argued that there is no correlation between higher crime rates and sanctuary cities and said it’s not up to the state or cities to supplement the federal immigration enforcement efforts because local police have other crimes to prevent and solve.

“This attack on newcomers to our country — we are opposed to it,” said Howse.

Ramos called on legislative leaders to not schedule Keller’s bill for a hearing.

But local Republican state representatives said they want to learn more about Keller’s proposal. State Rep. Mike Henne, R-Clayton, and state Rep. Steve Huffman, R-Tipp City, both said they believe cities should be cooperating with federal immigration enforcement officials.

State Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Washington Twp., took a more concrete stance: “We are a nation of laws. My parents came to this country legally, and so should everyone else. Our elected local leaders should not be allowed to ignore laws and harbor those here illegally, and they should face consequences if they do. I want us to be a nation that takes those fleeing persecution, but they must come here legally.”

Sanctuary city or state is an undefined term that generally means the local authorities won’t spend local resources enforcing federal immigration laws.

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