Controversy Over State Immigration Laws Comes to Ohio

Recent events have offered mixed news for immigrants and the attorneys who advocate for them, with some positive events occurring in the midst of an often-negative atmosphere for immigrants. Ohio is now experiencing the effects of the dispute between, on one side, those who support the rights of immigrants and tout the benefits immigration can have for local economies, and those who advocate greater restrictions on immigration at all levels.

We have previously reported on limits placed by the courts on some of the harsher provisions of anti-immigrant laws enacted in Arizona and Alabama, but the broader effect of those laws elsewhere in the nation remains to be seen. Last week saw the successful recall of Republican Arizona state senator Russell Pearce, the author of that state’s controversial 2010 immigration law. Immigration advocates tout this as a victory for immigrant rights and a move towards a sensible immigration policy. Of course, many issues factored into Arizona voters’ decision, but it is difficult not to see this as a major win for immigrants.

Ohio has also seen recent progress in immigrants’ rights, with efforts from business leaders to attract immigrant investors and the decision by the city of Dayton to formally become “immigrant-friendly.” A Chippewa Herald op-ed recently touted the importance of immigrants to Ohio’s economy and the folly of blaming immigrants for the state’s economic problems, noting recent efforts to attract immigrant investors and entrepreneurs to the area. The author makes the uncomfortable, but perhaps necessary, argument that immigrants will often perform jobs that others in Ohio will not, citing the example of Alabama farms that cannot attract non-immigrant labor.

At least one Ohio leader does not share this enthusiasm for immigrants, however. Sheriff Richard K. Jones of Butler County recently sent a letter to Governor John Kasich requesting assistance in creating stiffer penalties for immigrants and employers who hire undocumented labor. The sheriff’s letter cites certain economic problems he associates with illegal immigration. He asks the governor to assist state legislators who are trying to pass legislation that would increase punishments for employers hiring undocumented workers and undocumented immigrants who break Ohio laws, as well as empower local law enforcement to make arrests for immigration violations. The similarities to the Arizona and Alabama laws are clear.

Immigration law and its enforcement, according to the U.S. Constitution, belong to the federal government, which sets national standards. The supposed failure of the federal government to enforce these laws evenly or adequately has become a popular talking point for many state and local politicians. It remains to be seen how Ohio’s state government will respond to recent trends. Governor Kasich may listen to business leaders who advocate for the value of immigration to the economy. With the recent electoral defeat of his law dealing with public unions, though, his administration may look to immigration as the next big issue.

The process of immigrating to the United States is often time-consuming and complex. For a free and confidential consultation with a skilled and experienced Ohio immigration visa lawyer, contact Gus Shihab through his website or at 877-479-4USA (4872) today.