Sheriff announces support for ban on temporary immigrant housing

An Ohio proposal that would ban state agencies from housing immigrants suspected of being here illegally has the support of the Butler County sheriff.

Sheriff Richard K. Jones said in a statement Thursday that he supports the legislation, which is sponsored by State Rep. Wes Retherford (R-Hamilton).

The bill would also prohibit local governments or private corporations who provide housing assistance, in partnership with the federal government, to immigrants suspected of living in the U.S. illegally, from receiving any state funding.

“People that run our country need to make some decisions. They need to fix this immigration policy. Both sides seem to hide behind trees. They won’t really come out and fix anything,” Jones said.

Jones also sent a letter urging Ohio Gov. John Kasich to support Retherford’s bill.

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“I urge you to take a stand do the right thing and support this bill, along with me,” Jones wrote to the Republican governor. “Hold agencies responsible for aiding illegal aliens on all levels and support the citizens that vote for people like you and me who expect us to fight to keep them safe.”

Retherford said Thursday he was not aware of any state agencies that have offered immigration housing assistance to the federal government.

The federal government has tried to deal with more than 57,000 unaccompanied minors arriving at the nation’s southern border since Oct. 1, many of them trekking from Central American countries.

The Health and Human Services department announced Wednesday that the city of Dayton, which had submitted potential shelter locations to the feds for the housing of immigrant children, was no longer in need of a temporary site to hold the children.

Catholic Charities of Southwest Ohio, which is based in Cincinnati, submitted Tuesday an application for a federal grant that would bring up to 100 unaccompanied children — suspected of being here with no documentation of citizenship — to the region. If the organization is selected by the federal government, the program would provide housing, recreational and counseling opportunities to children who crossed the border unaccompanied.

A spokesman for the Health and Human Services agency said Thursday no announcements have yet been made on that grant process.

Jennifer Young was outside the Butler County Jail on Thursday, where she had organized a small group of protesters.

“It makes me very angry,” she said about Jones’ letter. “These are children. They don’t deserve to be treated that way. Why? Because they have brown skin?”

Last month Jones sent a letter to Mexico President Enrique Pena Nieto. In the letter, the sheriff asked for a $900,000 payment to make up for the estimated 3,000 Mexican nationals housed in the Butler County Jail during the last decade. He made appearances on national cable TV shows and radio talk shows commenting on the letter.

Staff Writer Lot Tan contributed to this report.

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