Immigrant Rights Press Release

03.10.09

ACLU Urges General Assembly to Reject Bill That Would Allow Local Police to Enforce Federal Immigration Laws

Legislation Would Increase Racial Profiling, Stretch Resources

COLUMBUS- The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio called on legislators in the Ohio General Assembly to oppose Senate Bill 35, which would allow local law enforcement officials to enforce federal immigration laws. The bill is sponsored by State Senator Jimmy Stewart (R-Albany) and is scheduled today for its second hearing before the Senate State & Local Government & Veterans Affairs Committee.

ACLU of Ohio Staff Counsel Carrie Davis said, “Immigration law is exceedingly complex and requires a great deal of training and resources to properly equip police to enforce them. Without comprehensive training, the chances increase greatly that the laws will be improperly enforced and may result in more racial profiling.”

“Equally troubling is that the bill would stretch local law enforcement at a time when many do not have adequate resources to enforce the laws they are currently responsible for. Police departments already have an enormous task of investigating crime and enforcing local laws. Adding one of the federal government’s responsibilities onto local police could pose serious public safety risks,” added Davis.

A similar bill was passed by the Ohio Senate in 2008. Senate Bill 260 also sought to allow local police departments to enforce federal immigration laws. The bill died in the Ohio House and was not voted on before the end of the legislative session.

“Local law enforcement is stretched thin enough without having to worry about enforcing complex and often confusing federal immigration statutes. This legislation will do little to stem undocumented immigration, but it will increase racial profiling and leave police without enough resources to effectively enforce the laws they are already charged with upholding,” Davis concluded.

The nonprofit, nonpartisan ACLU of Ohio is based in Cleveland with community and campus groups throughout the state. There are 30,000 ACLU members and supporters in Ohio and more than 500,000 nationwide.