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New Ohio legislation aims to curb illegal immigration

Rebecca Kelley

If Republican state representatives Courtney Combs and Shawn Webster succeed in passing their recently proposed legislation, illegal immigrants in Ohio will have a tougher time registering vehicles.

If the bill, which was proposed April 22, passes, it would require documentation of citizenship or valid travel papers to register a vehicle in Ohio.

According to Combs, this documentation can be anything from a birth certificate to a Green Card, as long as it proves the legality of the person registering.

The goal of the bill, according to Combs, is to make it more difficult for illegal immigrants to obtain vehicles. If caught, the illegal immigrants would be handed over to federal authorities.

"Hopefully only legal (citizens) will be able to buy cars," Combs said.

Combs said that Ohio faces a lot of problems regarding illegal immigration, especially in Butler County. According to Combs, there are approximately 40 illegal immigrants in the Butler County jail at a time.

However, critics of the bill say it cultivates a negative image of immigrants.

Kelly Quinn, Miami University professor of American studies, said she believes the bill is contributes to the overall negativity shown toward immigrants in this country.

"To me, it's a real sadness that we live in such a xenophobic moment," Quinn said. "I don't understand the level of hostility towards new arrivals."

Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones said he is in favor of the proposed legislation, and he said he hopes it will discourage the illegal activities that he sees in Butler County.

"There are people who are giving false documentation and getting registrations for people who either don't have documentation or are here illegally," Jones said.

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Jones said that approximately 30 days ago, three people were arrested for manufacturing fake IDs to help illegal immigrants register vehicles. Those individuals are currently facing charges in court.

According to Jones, if there are regulations set, it will decrease the amount of illegal activity.

"I think what needs to happen is rules need to be set, and people follow rules," Jones said. "When they don't follow the rules, there should be consequences."

Jones said he believes that the legislation is very fair, and that the inability for illegal immigrants to register a vehicle is something that should be in place.

"If you are here illegally, you shouldn't be able to drive anyways," Jones said. "You should be taking a bus."

According to Jones, illegal immigrants are a detriment to Butler County, taking up space in jail and taking up the time of the enforcement authorities.

"The criminal illegal aliens-they suck up a lot of resources," Jones said. "It's totally out of control."

The bill has to go to committee before it will be debated by the full house.

Combs hopes to have the bill in action as soon as possible, but does not believe that it will occur before the summer months.

"We will be out of session by the end of May, so we are probably looking at the fall (for progress on the bill)," Combs said.