Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Enquirer: Illegal immigrants topic of rare Butler/Warren talk

If this catches on, county by county, maybe we won't need the federal government after all. BTW, note the progress on the Enquirer's use of the "i" word both in the lead-in to the story and in direct quotes it utilizes.

Fox: We'll 'blow the trumpet':

LEBANON - Warren County appears poised to follow Butler County's lead in cracking down on illegal immigrants - and Hamilton County could be, too.

Warren County commissioners said Tuesday they will need time to digest all the ideas that Butler County Commissioner Mike Fox spent an hour discussing with them. But all three commissioners made comments supporting the same general principles Fox is advancing.

"The reality is - bottom line - that we, as a region, need to be doing the same things. Otherwise, we're just transplanting the illegal immigration problem from one area to another," Commissioner Pat South said after the meeting.

In a rare move, Warren Commission President Mike Kilburn invited Fox to address the board.

Kilburn said he wants to head off problems with illegal immigrants.

"It's bigger than our economy tomorrow, it's our heritage," he told Fox. "It's our way of life. ... This sounds prejudiced maybe, but this is our country. This is not Mexico. ... Are we willing to have the whole face of America change?"

Fellow Commissioner Dave Young told Fox: "All I can say is that we stand with you in Warren County."

Fox said Hamilton County Commission President Phil Heimlich was ready to take some steps after Heimlich joined a group of people at Fox's home Monday night to watch President Bush's speech proposing measures for stemming the tide of illegal immigration, chiefly from Mexico.

Heimlich confirmed Tuesday he wants to know more about the impact of illegal immigrants in Hamilton County. He said he expects to ask Administrator Patrick Thompson to investigate how many illegal immigrants there are in Hamilton County, how many are in the jails and how many use county services.

Fox said federal officials have shirked their responsibilities, leaving local officials with tough choices and little power.

Yet, Fox said, he has learned illegal immigration is not just a concern for border states. "This issue is alive and well in the heartland and there are a lot of folks who expect their elected officials to do something about it," he said.

Real power for addressing the issue rests with federal leaders, who appear unable or unwilling to take meaningful action, Fox said.

That's why local leaders must do two things, Fox said: Be vocal to put pressure on federal legislators, and come up with creative strategies using local authority to tackle the problems relating to illegal immigration.

"Every time we see a violation in hiring illegal immigrants, we are going to blow the trumpet and beat the drum," Fox said.


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