(Columbus, Ohio) June 9, 2017: This week, Columbus became the latest Ohio city making it illegal to assist federal law enforcement in administering immigration law.  While refusing to use the term “Sanctuary City,” Columbus nonetheless joined Cincinnati, Dayton, Cleveland, and other Ohio cities barring cooperation with federal authorities fulfilling their duties under the law.

The Republican Liberty Caucus of Ohio (RLCOH) refers to itself as the conscience of the Republican Party and advises the state party on how to pursue a reasoned and principled response to such trends.  This particular issue has multiple moving parts requiring careful attention.

Says RLCOH Chairman, Bill Yarbrough, “This is a tough issue because our caucus supports local tax dollars spent exclusively on local issues and local decision-making closest to the people.  However, we also believe government must function under the rule of law like everyday citizens.”

The RLCOH Legislative Committee and State Executive Board have decided to stand against Sanctuary City codes in Ohio (whether or not they are explicitly named as such) because they go beyond a simple assertion of local autonomy and codify un-cooperation and government dysfunction.  Says Chairman Yarbrough, “Were cities simply to prohibit immigration-only arrest and denial of city services, we could support that.  However, cities like Columbus would also prohibit any sharing of information with federal law enforcement or simply coordinating the release of a prisoner charged with local crimes so that federal law enforcement can do their duty as well.  Ohio citizens deserve a functioning government and this is codified dysfunction. This is unacceptable.”

In response to this trend, Ohio House Bill 179 seeks to prohibit cities from enacting such codes. Unfortunately, this also goes too far. House Bill 179 as currently written does not merely require general cooperation, but establishes a new court-clogging and expensive bureaucratic mechanism for removing officials from public office. This precedent-setting act can be used in the future to threaten local officials who do not obey any number of controversial federal laws from drug prohibition to gun confiscation.  Says RLCOH Legislative Committee Chairman, Mike Newbern, “We wish to support HB 179 if amended simply to require observance of the law and common sense cooperation among government authorities in the interest of all Ohioans.  There are already judicial remedies in place holding local governments accountable when they fail to carry out the law.”

The RLCOH evaluates all bills substantially impacting liberty in Ohio and HB 179 has been updated accordingly on the Legislative Liberty Index found at