From Jose Torres-Ramirez - Feb. 4, 2011
In the middle of the fights taking place in Columbus over the state budged, the rights of unions and the issue of abortion, Republican Senator Jimmy Stewart decided to introduce SB 98. It is a redrafting of last year's Senate Arizona-inspired bill 35 . I am anticipating that with a very conservative State Government this bill will pass.
Current Ohio Law allows for law enforcement to detain any person that has immigration issues if stop is related to a criminal investigation and/or the individual has a criminal immigration matter. Today in Ohio, If an illegal immigrant is arrested for a crime, it is very likely that the officer will call immigration and a holder will be placed for that person. That is not what is in issue with the new bill.
Under SB 98, for the first time in our State, it will be acceptable for Ohio sheriffs to stop and "further investigate" ANY person they "suspect" to be illegally in the state. What factors will be considered to determine the existence of a "suspicion"? Accent when speaking? Color of the skin? How will this affect community policing used by our local police departments?
Although we are a border state, I do not believe this bill is directed against our neighbors in the north. We, the about 300,000 citizens of Hispanics ancestry in the state of Ohio, will suffer the brunt of this senseless law.
I am sure my father did not serve in Vietnam, nor my grandfather in WWII, so their descendants have to walk around with their passports to prove that they are legally here. Also, I will not want to have to explain to my kids why it is ok for the sheriffs to stop them and ask for their green card.
I am mainly concerned about how this law will affect us Hispanics, but we are not alone in this boat. It will affect those from Indian, Chinese, Arabic, Easter European and African Heritage and others as well.
We have two choices. We either do nothing letting the bill go through the chambers smoothly . OR do everything we can to stop it!
Like the Puertorrican poet Jose de Diego once said, we can be one of two types of bulls. First, like the bull that when cornered, bellows; or Second, like the one that (although cornered) does not bellows, but charges!