By Courtney Renee Drenan

COLUMBUS, Ohio – There’s a war taking place between cities and states in America and their new president over whether local authorities should be involved in enforcing the nation’s immigration laws, or whether they can ignore them with impunity.

Nowhere is that new dividing line more evident than in the heartland, in Ohio, where the slogan is “So much to discover.”

In the middle of the controversy now is the contest for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Democrat Sherrod Brown. Challenger Josh Mandel, state treasurer, has made safety and security the cornerstone of his campaign.

And that includes the subject of illegal aliens and their presence in America.

Ohio is one of 25 states where legislation discouraging cities from non-cooperation with federal immigration law enforcement has either been introduced or is planned in state legislatures. The fight is a vignette, because the implications stretch virtually around the globe.

It’s also messy. There’s no legal definition for a sanctuary city. It can be loosely applied and refers to a wide array of policy actions by a state or local government.

Just this week the court in the Northern District of California rejected the administration’s plan to defund sanctuary cities. President Trump rallied his supporters via tweet saying, “See you in the Supreme Court!”

Go to the WND Superstore now for the best on America’s immigration issue: “Adios America” from Ann Coulter, “Stop the Islamization of America” by Pamela Geller and “The Savage Nation” by Michael Savage, among many more.

In Ohio, Mandel has already proclaimed from the podium that sanctuary cities will happen “over my dead body!”

Ohio’s bill would up the ante for responsibility significantly. Public officials in sanctuary cities could face removal from office if an undocumented immigrant commits a crime.

The problem is real. It was a Painesville, Ohio, case that featured murder by an undocumented immigrant. The crime spree started with the attempted rape of a 14-year-old girl and ended with the murder of a 60-year-old woman.

Katrice Williams, a policy associate for the ACLU of Ohio, says sanctuary policies are needed, and “these stories are meant to stir up xenophobia toward immigrants.”

“We need sanctuary city policies to stop these abuses of power from happening by federal authorities or incensed local enforcement,” she said, citing reports from Los Angeles that sexual assault and domestic violence reports dropped 25 percent and 10 percent, respectively, among the Latino population.

She blames a fear of being detained.

“The evidence suggests residents without formal documentation fear that they will be deported by interacting with police, testifying in court or reporting a crime,” Williams claimed.

But fear of deportation may not be to blame. Los Angeles is a sanctuary city, granting protections for undocumented immigrants. In fact, the Los Angeles Police Department is home to Special Order 40, a policy that was instituted in 1979. It makes initiating contact or arresting an individual based on immigration status strictly forbidden.

In addition, Williams notes how immigration status can hold a domestic violence victim hostage. She highlighted a case from El Paso, Texas. Irvin Gonzalez sought a protective order against her boyfriend, which she got, but then ended up being arrested by ICE as she left court.

While this sounds jarring, it is important to note that Gonzalez had already been deported five times since 2010. She also had a prior criminal record, with a total of six criminal convictions.

Williams lamented that people won’t cooperate with police if they’re fearful of being detained themselves.

The other side, though, comes from Dave Ray of the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

“Sanctuary policies invite lawlessness and illegal immigration into communities,” he said.

And the absence of those practices won’t hinder police, he said.

“There isn’t a police department in the country that asks someone who is a victim of crime what their immigration status is,” Ray said. “Those who claim that sanctuary policies will negatively impact police relationships with the community or keep immigrant victims from coming forward are peddling a false and disproven narrative.”

He explained that his information doesn’t agree with Williams’ information.

“There’s only been one accredited study on the notion that eliminating sanctuary policies would have a negative effect on relations between police and the immigrant community,” Ray said. “The report found no evidence of a decline in crime reporting by immigrants after implementing a policy to screen all offenders for legal status.

“Of the convictions associated with criminal alien arrests, over 173,000 or 66 percent are associated with aliens who were identified by DHS stats as being in the U.S. illegally at the time of their arrest,” he said.

Williams and Ray predict different outcomes, but the Ohio fight could ripple across the nation.

The 2018 election tosses up 33 seats in the U.S. Senate. Last November’s outcome stunned many and put Democrats on notice. As a result, once safe Senate seats are vulnerable. Ohio is one of those.

Williams pointed out that “voters have a big opportunity to oppose policies and legislation that will erode their civil liberties.”

But Mandel said, “Sanctuary cities are an out-of-touch, misguided policy that snub their nose at our nation’s laws and undermine the security of our communities … sanctuary cities will only empower our enemies, not deter them.”

Go to the WND Superstore now for the best on America’s immigration issue: “Adios America” from Ann Coulter, “Stop the Islamization of America” by Pamela Geller and “The Savage Nation” by Michael Savage, among many more.



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