Holding court

Magistrate discusses immigration issues with conservatives

PHOTO BY SETH WEBER Seneca County Common Pleas Court Magistrate Kenneth Clason speaks about sanctuary cities during the North Central Ohio Conservatives meeting Thursday evening.

Seneca County Common Pleas Court Magistrate Kenneth Clason give his perspective as an attorney on immigration and sanctuary cities Thursday evening at a North Central Ohio Conservatives Inc. meeting.

Before Clason spoke, NCOC President Jim Green discussed the national “General Strike” set for today.

Green said some reasons for the strike include President Donald Trump’s recent immigration order, plans to build a wall on the Mexico-U.S. border and proposed dismantling of the Affordable Care Act. He said the list sounds like a “communist manifesto.”

He also said he feared violence and riots during the national protest.

“This is what we’re facing, folks,” he said. “Lock and load, right? This is why we raffle guns.”

According to Strike4Democracy’s website, supporters of the strike are not to purchase anything or work Friday and host nonviolent political rallies. 

Green praised Trump’s press conference Thursday and his support of the coal industry.

“If someone says he’s not keeping his promises and not doing his job, they’re nuts,” Green said. “I wouldn’t give them the time of day.”

Clason then took the stage and gave his thoughts as a “constitutional nerd” on sanctuary cities and controversy surrounding Trump’s executive immigration order.

“There’s a lot I’m going to say that you know, but I want to give you the attorney’s perspective,” he said.

Sanctuary cities are municipalities that do not cooperate with federal immigration enforcement when they intend to pursue undocumented immigrants. Columbus and Cincinnati are sanctuary cities.

He said there are two types of sanctuary cities: de facto, in which cities have no written policy, and de jure, in which cities have policies or statutes in place. He said sanctuary cities that don’t cooperate with the federal government could face legal trouble.

“It’s pretty dangerous on a federal level to have a sanctuary citizen,” Clason said. “These cities that have passed laws could run into federal criminal challenges.”

However, Clason said he does not think it’s likely criminal charges would be pursued, but believes financial sanctions are more likely.

Clason explained the process of finding out if someone is undocumented, having seen the process firsthand.

He said when someone comes into the Seneca County Jail, the person is checked for identification, and people suspected of being undocumented go through the court system before they can be deported.

He said not giving an undocumented immigrant due process would be a violation of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution and “the government has the burden to show (immigrants) are not here lawfully.”

“If you are on American soil, you are afforded those rights,” he said.

Many in attendance exclaimed “no” to Clason’s statement.

Due process also is guaranteed under the United Nation’s Declaration of Human Rights, Article 10. The United States is a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council.

“Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him,” the article states.

Clason moved on to Trump’s executive immigration order, which prevents immigration from seven Muslim-majority nations. The order was challenged by Washington state through the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, he said.

Clason said the case is “very early in litigation,” which makes it difficult to determine which direction it could go.

He said attorneys for Washington state claimed “actual harm” to the “health and wellbeing” of its citizens through lost tax revenue and prevention of foreign students and professors coming to the U.S.

The order also was challenged on the basis that it arbitrarily targets people based on their national origin, Clason said.

One woman asked if a 9th Circuit Court judge could be sued if an attack were carried out by an immigrant from a targeted countries.

Clason said judges are “immune from civil liability” for decisions they make.

Clason said it is possible for Trump to change the language of the order to avoid litigation.

“It’s not like they’re backed into a corner,” he said.