HAMILTON, OH– Today, after receiving word that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) entered into an agreement granting Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones authority to enforce federal immigration law, the ACLU of Ohio sent public records requests to both the sheriff and ICE to determine exactly what the agreement states the sheriff can do.
ACLU of Ohio Staff Attorney Carrie Davis said, “Immigration law is hopelessly complex. Most local law enforcement are not granted authority to enforce immigration laws because they require a great deal of expertise and experience in order to effectively and fairly implement them.
Davis added, “Sheriff Jones has already demonstrated hostility towards the Hispanic population in Butler County. It is important to review the document and discern what he can and cannot do under this agreement and ensure he stays within those boundaries.”
Since becoming sheriff in 2005, Jones has targeted Hispanics through a series of police actions and public statements. In April 2006, Jones erected various billboards around the county featuring his picture prominently declaring that businesses that hire undocumented workers will be prosecuted. The billboards cost Butler County taxpayers $10,000. In May 2006, he detained 18 men for several hours suspected of being undocumented, despite the fact that he had no agreement with ICE to enforce federal immigration law. All of the men were eventually released.
Under an agreement with ICE, the sheriff’s department may be able to enforce some immigration law and should receive training to recognize fraudulent documents, understand various legal statuses and learn how the immigration process works.
Davis concluded, “While the people must always carefully monitor the actions of their government officials, that oversight is especially important here given the Sheriff's apparently single-minded fixation on illegal immigrants, his demonstrated willingness to push the boundaries of his authority and the law in this regard, and the potential for abuse of any authority the agreement grants him.”