Area lawmakers want Ohio cities punished that don’t cooperate with immigration authorities

(Jason Armond/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
(Jason Armond/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

A proposed bill has been revived that would punish Ohio cities that fail to cooperate with immigration authorities.

State Reps. Candice Keller, R-Middletown, and Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg, who are each running in contested primaries for Ohio Senate seats, are co-sponsoring “Ohio’s Anti-Sanctuary Cities Act.”

Keller and Antani sponsored the same legislation in 2017 but that bill failed to emerge from a House committee. Other Republicans co-sponsoring the bill include John Becker, Bill Dean, George Lang, Phil Plummer, Nino Vitale and Paul Zeltwanger.

Keller said in written testimony delivered this week that sanctuary cities refuse to cooperate in federal immigration enforcement programs and detain undocumented immigrants who are arrested on suspicion of committing crimes.

RELATED: Democrats push back on anti-sanctuary cities bill

Keller said the bill would withhold state funds from cities that adopt sanctuary policies.

Antani, whose parents legally immigrated to the U.S. in 1978, said the Dayton School Board voted last year to be a “sanctuary school district,” saying the district would not cooperate with federal authorities on immigration matters.

The legislation would require Ohio law enforcement agencies to cooperate with federal immigration authorities, share information about arrestees with the feds, and make local jurisdictions that fail to cooperate ineligible for certain state and federal funds.

The legislation contains an emergency clause so that it would take effect immediately and not be subject to a referendum.

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, a Democrat, said “This sounds like Niraj and Keller have really big primary fights and they need the extreme right for their primaries…It’s just a way to incite their base.”

Antani is running for the Ohio Senate seat being vacated by Republican Peggy Lehner. He faces primary opposition from Rachel Selby, a fundraiser for Dayton Children’s Hospital, and Greg Robinson, a business owner.

Keller is running for the senate seat being vacated by Republican Bill Coley. She is in a three-way primary race along with Lee Wong and Lang.

The new bill was introduced in March, but received its first hearing this week.

RELATED: Presidential and state primary slates set

Whaley added: “The whole thing is extreme, especially when there is no city in Ohio that is deemed a sanctuary city by the federal government. It’s a solution looking for a problem.”

The bill also has a provision to remove from office locally elected officials if they vote in favor of resolutions, ordinances, rules or policies that conflict with the bill’s immigration requirements.

RELATED: Ohio elected officials may face charges if illegal immigrant kills someone

Immigration is a hot-button political topic that often divides conservatives and liberals.

Dayton launched its Welcome Dayton program in 2011 in an effort to encourage immigrants to move to the city and help boost population.

Dayton Public Schools also approved a “Safe and Welcoming Schools” resolution in March supporting immigrant students and that the school will work to “ensure that our students’ learning environments are not disrupted by immigration enforcement actions.”

Regardless of the resolution, since 1982 the Supreme Court has ruled that all children including undocumented children have the right to go to public schools.

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