Oberlin May Amend Sanctuary Proposal

Cindy Leise, Chronicle-Telegram (Elyria, OH), Dec. 24, 2008

A controversial proposal to make Oberlin Ohio’s first sanctuary city for illegal immigrants could be amended to allow police the ability to inquire about immigration status, according to City Manager Eric Norenberg.

Simply banning police from discussing the matter “removed any flexibility for officers in the field,” Norenberg said.

“The policy placed absolute restrictions on our police officers, and the alternative will address the general practice we expect police to follow,” Norenberg said.

He met Tuesday with Steve Volk and Mark Fahringer, who are proponents of the sanctuary legislation, along with Police Chief Thomas Miller, who opposes the current version of the law.

Also attending the meeting were Oberlin City Council members David Ashenhurst, Sharon Soucy and Vice Chairman Jack Baumann, along with Barb Mehwald, chairwoman of the city’s Human Relations Commission, which voted 4-to-1 to recommend the sanctuary resolution to Council.

The current version of the resolution prohibits police or other city officials from requesting information about the immigration status of any person except as required by law or court decision.

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The proposal was sparked by Volk and Fahringer after seven illegal immigrants working at the Casa Fiesta restaurant were arrested in raids on July 23 and Oct. 30.

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