Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Toledo Free Press Needs Reality Check

In a recent article entitled "Protecting the Borders," Toledo Free Press President Tom Pounds criticizes Toledo City Councilmen Adam Martinez and Joe McNamara for their proposed resolution condemning Arizona's SB 1070. Mr. Pounds's arguments just don't hold up. His main point is that the situation in Arizona is happening 1,700 miles away; why would we want to get Toledo involved?

If Toledo and other cities don't get involved in this issue, the issue will come to them. As the OAC has pointed out, we will likely face an issue on the ballot in 2011 which would codify and mandate Arizona's style of immigration enforcement here in Ohio. Statewide. Including Toledo.

If you share the view that heavy-handed local immigration enforcement, racial profiling and general disregard for the US Constitution is something that happens only "over there," frankly you need to wake up. This is already happening in your own backyard.

The following is the text of an email that I sent to Mr. Pounds in response to his article. I'm still waiting for a response.

Dear Mr. Pounds,

I respect your views on the proposed nonbinding resolution by Toledo City Council. However, I think your argument that this is not a Toledo-relevant issue (or even Ohio-relevant) deserves a second look. You correctly point out that Representative Combs is pushing legislation in both the Ohio House and Senate. The reality is that he is not the primary force behind the bills. He is working closely with Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones to bring not only legislation, but a ballot-initiative for 2011.

Sheriff Jones's record on local immigration enforcement speaks for itself. He has worked with the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which is designated as a "Hate Group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center as well as the Anti-Defamation League. Recently he was sued and subsequently settled out of court for alleged misuse of his 287(g) program, which deputizes local law enforcement to enforce Federal immigration policy. He and Combs recently visited Arizona, and have publicly advocated for Arizona-style policies in Ohio. I invite you to check the Ohio Action Circle blog for more information about the proposed ballot initiative here

Clearly this is something which will very soon be thrust onto the statewide scene (I would argue that it already has). Furthermore, this is inherently Toledo-relevant due to Toledo's proximity to Ohio's international border with Canada. US Customs and Border Patrol has jurisdiction to set up checkpoints up to 100 miles from our international border. Their Ohio outpost in Marblehead (50 miles from Toledo) has recently been placed under scrutiny by Toledo organizations FLOC and ABLE in a lawsuit alleging racial profiling and harassment of legal residents and US citizens. Article here:

The argument that these laws encourage racial profiling is not hyperbole; it is reality. The policies are being challenged before our courts, and there is already data to back it up. Clearly this is not an issue unique to Arizona, and I think we'll see more city councils in Ohio begin to take up similar resolutions.


Nick Torres
Ohio Grassroots Organizer
Reform Immigration For America

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