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Immigration News

An Immigration Problem In Ohio? Not Really

Though there is nothing to lead anyone to believe that Ohio has an immense illegal immigration problem, it hasn’t stopped politicians from attempting to follow Arizona’s lead and ask its people to enact its own controversial legislation.

In 2008, Ohio had 95,000 undocumented immigrants within its borders, placing it 41st out of the 50 states making up only 0.7 percent (Arizona’s is 7.9) of its overall population. This estimate comes out of The Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan research organization, which states this is a meager amount compared not only the Southwest’s immigration population, but the other highly populated states as well.

With a smaller unauthorized immigrant population comes less law violations committed by them, so Ohio Rep. Todd Book, D-McDermott says jobs and the economy are “’he first thing[s] we need to focus on.’

State Rep. Courtney Combs, a Butler County Republican, while agreeing that there are only few undocumented workers in Ohio the state should still address the issue, which is why he has sponsored a bill that would require Ohio employers to verify workers’ citizenship status.

‘How many (undocumented persons) is enough?’ Combs asked. Illegal immigration ‘is a problem, and it’s known to be a problem.’

Special Projects Director for The Federation For American Immigration Reform, Jack Martin states, ‘Illegal immigrants are looking for other locations where they may continue to find jobs. That means that any state that is not taking similar measures is a likely target for illegal aliens looking for a hospitable environment.’

Combs thinks tougher laws across all states will make Washington deal with the issue of illegal immigration.

‘I’m honestly hopeful because of what state are doing across the country that the federal government is getting the pressure — (President) Obama and the Congress, Democrats and Republicans— the pressure is on them to get something done,’ states Combs.

The GOP-led Senate has passed two bills on the topic of illegal immigration, but they are unlikely to advance in the Democrat-controlled Ohio House. Governor Ted Strickland has pledged to veto and Arizona-style, but Combs in intending to go straight to a referendum.

At the local level in Ohio, officials are pushing for very few changes.

‘You see news clips about it in southwest Ohio,’ Deputy Director of the Ohio Municipal League, John Mahoney said, ‘But for the most part it doesn’t come up at all.’

The Ohio General Assembly has taken up the issue of illegal immigration since the national debate was sparked last year. A bill would allow local law enforcement agencies to enforce immigration laws, which they currently are unable to do.