Residents react to Painesville's controversial immigration policy change

Posted at 9:56 PM, Jun 06, 2017

The city of Painesville’s new policy on immigration has the whole community buzzing. The policy calls for Painesville police to notify federal agents about immigrants, who commit certain crimes.

Residents talked for one and a half hours during the city council meeting Monday night.

Those in support of the policy talked about keeping the community safe. Meanwhile, immigrants said it makes them feel less welcome in America.

News 5 talked with Maria Flores, who is an immigrant and American citizen. She runs a local hair salon in Painesville.

“First time I saw it, I was like, 'wow,'” said Flores, “A lot of people got upset, I got upset.”

Resident Dan Nagel said he supports the city's immigration policy, which was issued back in March.

“The illegals are illegal,” said Nagel.

The policy states that Painesville police are to report immigrants, who are charged with certain offenses, such as drugs, violence or drunk driving. Those who are affiliated with gangs will also be reported.

Flores said she doesn't understand why there is a need for this type of policy in Painesville.

“I don't think in Painesville, there's bad people, or bad Mexicans that come here,” she said, “Maybe in a big city.”

However, Nagel said America should learn from the mistakes of other countries.

“Crossing the borders illegally without knowing them, without being vetted,” he said, “Then, there is a problem, we don't want to become another Paris, we don't want to become another Europe.”

The part of the policy that is raising many eyebrows is the section stating that the lack of English proficiency could be considered in establishing reasonable suspicion, but not the sole factor.

“My mom, she's a citizen, and she doesn't speak any English,” said Flores, “That's when you start thinking it's not fair."

The policy states that the goal is to provide Painesville police guidelines for investigating and enforcing immigration laws. While some supporters have questioned the section regarding English proficiency, others believe the policy is written fairly.

“That English proficiency is like wearing all black with a mask over my face, being ISIS, per se,” said Nagel, “You're going to raise a flag.”

In response, Monica Irelan, the Painesville City Manager said the lack of English skills does not create reasonable suspicion on its own.

She sent News 5 this statement:

“As for last night’s meeting, every public servant is pleased when the public is engaged in the community. We truly are blessed to live in a diverse, engaged community. 
We continue to meet one on one with key stakeholders and hope to continue those conversations. The more people who come to the table, the better opportunity we have to discuss the policy.”