Sheriff visits Arizona, talks immigration - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Sheriff visits Arizona, talks immigration

(FOX19) - Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones and State Representative Courtney Combs visited Arizona over the weekend to check out the state's new immigration law.

Sheriff Jones and Rep Combs met with the supporters of the law and took time to look at the Arizona-Mexico border.

The controversial Arizona law makes it a "violation of state law to be in the United States without proper documentation," and grants Arizona police agencies and officers authority to stop and verify the immigration status of anyone suspected of being illegally in the country. The new law is set to take effect in late July.

Jones and Combs are seeking a similar law in Ohio.

Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland said he would veto any legislation similar to Arizona's law, so Sheriff Jones says he wants the issue on the November ballot.

Sheriff Jones says its extremely important to understand the issue fully -  so important that he came out here on his own dime.

For years, he's said immigration and customs agents can only crack down on the problem, and cover a fraction of the ground that state and local law enforcement can.

"It's strictly numbers and there's millions of police officers, there's a couple thousand ice agents, it's pretty simple, it's the numbers and this is getting to be an issue where the front line officer need the same authority as what the federal government has," said Sheriff Jones.

"I think most people are wondering why a sheriff from the northern state of Ohio that has one of the lowest immigrant populations in the country is going around touting immigration as his number one issue," said Jason Rivera with the League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULAC. "Not only that ,but asking tax payers to go along with this witch hunt.

LULAC says the sheriff's role in this issue is puzzling.

"At the end of day we think this is not helping anybody here in Ohio," said Rivera. "Arizona is in a completely different situation."

Current law in most states doesn't require police to ask about the immigration status of those they encounter.

LULAC and other organizations rear allowing that type of questioning could deter immigrants from cooperating in other serious criminal investigations, where lives could be at risk.

In coming days, the sheriff hopes to get a lot of questions answered. He's talking with border officials, local law enforcement and people who live along the border.

FOX19's Dan Wells is in Arizona. Tuesday, he will report on what border officials and law enforcement think about the sheriff's trip.

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