Surveys suggest that nearly two-thirds of Ohio residents consider illegal immigration a serious problem, and state lawmakers have responded with legislation.
One bill currently before the Legislature would make English Ohio’s official language. Another would grant local police the authority to investigate immigration violations, normally the domain of federal agents.
State Rep. Courtney Combs has introduced a bill that would require proof of citizenship to apply to college, apply for a job or rent an apartment. The bill would also impose penalties on employers that hire illegal immigrants and prohibit teenagers without visas from accessing public benefits such as routine medical care.
The bills reflect growing impatience with the federal government’s failure to deal with the problem, despite the fact that U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) quadrupled the number of agents deployed in Ohio last year, and tripled the number of deportations.
Gov. Ted Strickland counseled patience, telling the Associated Press, “This is an issue that cries out for a federal solution so there can be consistency. We can’t have 50 different sets of laws.”