On Saturday, April 8, Totally Engaged Americans hosted former Ohio Representative Matt Lynch and Geauga County Commissioner Skip Claypool to discuss the ramifications of illegal immigration in Ohio. First of all, as conservatives frequently clarify but progressives never do, we are making a distinction between immigrants who are coming to this country through the legal process and those immigrants who are here unlawfully. In addition to that, this country has a problem with immigrants who have come here illegally and then who commit further crimes. In January, Rep. Jason Chaffetz had a notable observation during a House hearing.
The concern for many citizens in Ohio is the cost of illegal immigration as well as the integrity of the vote. The state of Ohio will grant a license to an undocumented resident, and with this license the person is unlikely to be questioned at the Boards of Elections. A recent audit found that over 300 non-citizens were registered to vote in Ohio (http://nbc4i.com/2017/02/27/ohio-secretary-of-state-investigation-found-non-citizens-registered-to-vote-cast-illegal-ballots/). This is a far different number than the stated “voter fraud never happens” claim that we hear so often.
As a state legislature, Lynch attempted to curtail some of these problems by preventing the state from issuing licenses to non-citizens. Despite a Republican-controlled legislature as well as Republicans in every state office, the legislation went nowhere. There is great social and political pressure to afford the voting privileges of citizens to those who simply reside in this state without having gone through the citizenship process. This pressure is felt by every officeholder in Columbus, including the three members of the Kasich administration (DeWine, Husted, and Taylor) who will likely vie for the 2018 gubernatorial nomination.
Ohio has another benefit for those living here as non-citizens: it provides discounted “in-state” tuition to Ohio colleges and universities. Of course, these discounts do come at a cost as Ohio tax dollars pick up the difference. If you add up the entire cost of illegal immigration, including the education, health care, and crime, Ohio costs total $1 billion each year.
With the new Trump administration, it is expected that a crack down on illegal immigration will come on a federal level. Two resources to consider when discussing upcoming policy changes are US 1373 and the book “Unfaithful Guardians.” The law stipulates in US 1373 that local governments must cooperate with federal officials when it comes to immigration policy. For those interested in the argument in favor of “sanctuary” cities, colleges, or states, you can read a proponent’s interpretation of this law (https://www.ilrc.org/sites/default/files/resources/fact_sheet_on_usc_1373_and_bja_funding_july_2016.pdf). Also Unfaithful Guardians is a book and website that explain the gradually encroaching of federal powers over state and individual sovereignty. It can become a tangled web when trying to discover why and how non-citizens began enjoying the rights and privileges of citizenship, but it is well worth the effort as the topic of illegal immigration will likely be very prominent in upcoming elections.