JANUARY 05, 2009
Under pressure from police, an Ohio city has revised its new law granting illegal immigrants sanctuary by removing a strict prohibition on all public employees—including law enforcement officers—from inquiring about anyone’s immigration status.
The sanctuary law was passed in Oberlin, southwest of Cleveland with a population of about 9,000, in late December. City officials created the measure after federal immigration raids at a local Mexican restaurant resulted in the arrest and deportation of several illegal aliens.
Lawmakers said they took action because the local raids, as well as those conducted regionally and around the country, caused fear throughout the immigrant community. The language in the actual law reminds that, with a racially and ethnically diverse population, Oberlin prides itself on welcoming persons and families of all backgrounds and nationalities and protecting the rights of all.
But the city’s police chief (Thomas Miller) complained that the new sanctuary law is too restrictive on officers because it forbids them from ever asking about a suspect’s immigration status. Lawmakers responded by changing the measure’s language, replacing the strict prohibition with “the general practice” of not inquiring about immigration status.
The revised resolution, which reaffirms the city’s commitment to civil rights and equal access to all public services regardless of citizenship, is expected to pass this week. The minor change in the law’s wording doesn’t change the fact that it offers sanctuary to those in the country illegally.
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