DeWine adding Ohio to immigration lawsuit causing mixed reaction

Published 12:06 am Sunday, December 14, 2014

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine recently made a decision to add Ohio to the Texas immigration lawsuit suing the Obama administration over President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration.

Right now, a total of 24 states have joined the lawsuit that claims Obama’s actions when he moved to protect 5 million immigrants from deportation were unconstitutional.

Ohio leaders are mixed on whether Obama was within his powers or not with local officials mirroring their state counterparts.

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In other words, how that lawsuit affects Lawrence County appears to depend on whom you talk to.

“It doesn’t have much effect on us locally, but they need to do something about it,” Ray Dutey, Lawrence County Republican party chairman, said. “I am in favor of the lawsuit. We need to keep people from crossing the border. As soon as the border is secured, it will make this country better.”

However Dutey’s counterpart across the aisle, Craig Allen, had different feelings.

“Basically, the immigration business is up to the president and Congress,” said Allen, Democratic party chief. “Ohio’s resources are better spent elsewhere.”

For Bill Dingus, executive director of the Lawrence County Economic Development Corporation, Obama using his executive authority on the issue concerns him.

“In this country we have a legislature in Congress to look at these things and consider them over time,” he said. “When presidents take executive actions on things, it concerns me. It should be used in emergency situations, not a way to take away discussion. Executive order was not an appropriate process.”

Lawrence County Commission President Les Boggs, agrees with the lawsuit, but feels immigrants do have a place.

“America is the melting pot of the world. All are welcome if done legally, but to arbitrarily give aliens rights and government benefits imposes a heavy burden on states,” he said. “Therefore, I support Mr. DeWine’s decision to join other states in the lawsuit. However, this is not to say all illegals are bad. Many enhance the communities in which they live, but all should play by the same laws.”

A press conference call on Tuesday featured those Ohio leaders who are against DeWine’s decision.

“The lawsuit is not a legal complaint, but it is a factually inaccurate press release,” David Leopold, Ohio-based immigration attorney, said. “Most of what is said isn’t even fact. From a legal perspective, it must show harm and it can’t do that.”

The press call was part of “America’s Voice, the power to win common sense immigration reform.”

“The great state of Ohio decided to go in a shameful direction,” Lynn Tramonte, deputy director of America’s Voice, said. “When we found out Ohio was signing the lawsuit, we were very disappointed.”

If the lawsuit is successful, it would subject thousands of Ohio families to deportation as well as deny $41 million in much needed tax revenue to the state over the next five years.

“Everyone that is undocumented in the United States remains at risk to be removed and 400,000 people a year will continue to be removed from the United States,” Leopold said. “It needs to be done by getting rid of criminals, gang bangers, national security risks and those with no respect for law. Not families and children.”

Rabbi Robert Nosanchuk, of the Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple in Beachwood agrees.

“Real people’s lives are being affected,” he said. “Children are left alone when their parents are deported. Time for change in the immigration system has come.”

Immigration also has a large effect on the economy.

“It is very clear that undocumented immigrants are helping the economy. Undocumented immigrants can’t work legally, but over one third are contributing to taxes each year, which helps keep Social Security and health care afloat,” Patrick Oakford, policy analyst at the Center for American Progress, said. “Those in favor of the lawsuit are acting against their own interests. When undocumented immigrants have work permits, they start paying taxes. They are also consumers.”

President Obama’s executive action will give legal reprieve to undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have been here for at least five years. It will also expand the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, a program that allowed young immigrants under 30 who arrived as children to apply for a deportation deferral and are now here legally, to now include qualifying those older than 30 and more recent arrivals.

“Since 2012, I have been able to get a work permit,” Carol Apaestegui, a DACA recipient from Ohio whose parents qualify for the new Deferred Action for Parents policy, said. “I also was able to go to college and was able apply for any job I wanted to use my degree more efficiently. Not only was I able to get a job that uses my skill set, but I also was able to get an apartment and I am currently looking into purchasing a home.”

The leaders on the press call wanted to know why Mike DeWine made the decision to add Ohio to the immigration lawsuit.

“It is an embarrassment to the state and shameful to put Ohio on such a lawsuit,” Leopold said. “I’m just surprised and stunned that DeWine would use his office for something like this.”

Tramonte feels the same way.

“This isn’t just a small thing,” she said. “A monumental decision was made that will come back to haunt them.”

Besides Texas and Ohio, states that have joined the lawsuit are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.