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Ohio sheriff rips Senate for failing to solve border problem

- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 5, 2007

An Ohio sheriff who asked the federal government to reimburse his county for the cost of jailing criminal aliens says the immigration-reform bill failed in the Senate because it did not solve the problem of first securing the nation's border.

"The U.S. Senate's job is to protect and serve the citizens of this country. At times it seems as though they have forgotten whence they came," said Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones, a frequent critic of the government's immigration-enforcement policies.

"Make no mistake about the fact that the immigration system is beyond broken," he said. "The problem is, our border must first be secured. This Senate bill was mostly about big money and lobbyists trying to force the issue on elected officials throughout this great country."

Sheriff Jones, who also asked the Mexican government to reimburse him in his fight against Mexican-based drug rings in his county, thinks the Senate's failure to pass the bill is reason enough for states to target illegal aliens themselves and called on state officials to enact legislation to deal with what he called a "continuing illegal-immigration crisis."

"Let's create stricter state laws to go after employers who hire persons who are in this state illegally," he said. "Let's make English the official language of the state. Those who live in Ohio should know our language. Taxpayers should not have to pay for interpreters in schools, and U.S. citizens living here shouldn't have to learn another language."

Sheriff Jones has been advocating immigration reform for nearly two years, when illegal aliens started swamping the Butler County jail. He openly derided the cost of housing the illegal-alien inmates and targeted the employers who hired them, openly expanding his campaign to include the cost to taxpayers for illegals who use the county's schools, hospitals, courts and law enforcement.

"Just in this county alone, the cost to the taxpayers is $1 million," he said. "Add to that the cost to the citizens throughout the United States and that taxpayer burden is in the hundreds of millions of dollars."

Sheriff Jones said that in the wake of the defeat of the immigration-reform bill in the Senate, the federal government must do a better job of enforcing existing laws on immigration.

"The law is the law. We must enforce the law we have. The only additional change in the law should be that our local law enforcement should have the authority to enforce the federal immigration law without having to obtain federal permission," he said.

"On the other hand, it is equally appalling that it takes close to eight years to obtain legal U.S. citizenship status," he said. "Within 90 days, law enforcement can conduct a background check and issue the right to carry a deadly weapon to anyone who meets the requirements.

"Again, this is local government, and it works. Having over 200 different kinds of legal visas is so confusing even the federal government does not understand," he said. "We allow 1.2 million people to legally immigrate into the United States every year. All of the other countries in the world added together do not allow that many to become legal immigrants."

Sheriff Jones said the federal government should reduce the waiting period for legal immigrants or change the number of legal immigrants to an amount negotiated by people who know what amount this country can absorb.

"Sadly it does not appear that those people reside in the U.S. Senate," he said. "The land of the free and home of the brave is becoming the land of the overtaxed, overburdened and disillusioned."