COLUMBUS — Elected officials who move to designate their communities as sanctuaries for immigrants in the country illegally could face criminal charges or civil penalties if those immigrants commit crimes, under legislation being drafted in the Ohio House.
Sponsoring Rep. Candice Keller (R-Middletown) said the details are still being determined, but the goal is to block communities from adopting sanctuary city status.
“What we’re trying to do is fix the inaction that we’ve seen… that is endangering all of our lives….,” she said.
Keller and Republican state Treasurer Josh Mandel, who has declared his candidacy for the U.S. Senate, described the proposed law changes during a conference call with reporters Monday.
“As one of the constitutional office-holders in the state of Ohio, I have a responsibility to do everything I can to protect parents and kids here in Ohio and also protect the constitution,” Mandel said. “I think we should do everything we can to stop cities in Ohio from becoming sanctuary cities… I’m making this a top priority issue, and I’m proud to lead the charge here in Ohio.”
The Ohio Democratic Party, through a spokesman, declined comment on the legislation Monday.
The phrase “sanctuary cities” generally refers to communities that institute policies to protect immigrants in the country illegally from being deported.
In Ohio, Cincinnati recently moved to adopt the designation.
President Donald Trump recently signed an executive order calling for the identification of all such sanctuary communities nationwide, along with the publication of a weekly list of criminal actions committed by illegal immigrants.
Mandel has grabbed headlines in recent for his criticism of movement on the sanctuary city issue in Cincinnati and Columbus. On Monday, he released a list of attacks by illegal immigrants, including the murder of a 60-year-old Painesville woman last year.
Mandel said the legislation announced Monday would be a proactive approach to stopping future terrorist activity or violent crimes.
“You hear a lot of pundits and liberals complaining about illegal immigrants being temporarily separated from families,” he said. “But my main concern is making sure that no more Americans are permanently separated from their families after being murdered by illegal immigrants.”
The legislation announced Monday would prohibit local communities from adopting sanctuary city status. The mayors, city council members and other public officials who do so could face criminal charges and civil penalties if illegal immigrants commit crimes in their communities.
Keller said she has heard from numerous constituents who support the proposed legislation.
“My phone has been ringing off the hook from people who are concerned…,” she said. “They want something done, and they want something done quickly.”
Marc Kovac covers the Ohio Statehouse for Gatehouse Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.