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Dem senator's campaign ad touting border security features sheriff rebuked by ICE for 'sanctuary' policies

Ohio sheriff featured in an ad touting Dem Sen. Sherrod Brown's record on border security presides over a jurisdiction that essentially serves as a "sanctuary city," according to ICE.

A sheriff prominently featured in a Sen. Sherrod Brown campaign ad touting the Ohio Democrat's border security record essentially oversees a sanctuary county, prompting criticism from Republicans as the November election nears and polls show voters concerned about illegal immigration.

Brown is "fighting to keep our communities safe," Franklin County Sheriff Dallas Baldwin says in a recent ad that features a number of Ohio sheriffs telling voters about Brown’s bill signed by former President Trump that cracked down on illegal drugs pouring across the border.

Franklin County, home to Ohio's state capital and most populous city of Columbus, is widely regarded as a de facto "sanctuary city," and the Columbus Dispatch wrote in 2020 that "its policies are in line with jurisdictions" that have declared to be sanctuary cities.

Baldwin, a Democrat who has served as sheriff since 2017, was called out by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in 2020 in a press release that said his county released 29 criminal illegal aliens in the course of a few weeks despite ICE requesting a hold on those individuals. 


"When dangerous criminal aliens are released into the community, public safety is needlessly put at risk because of the individual’s propensity to re-offend," Rebecca Adducci, the field office director for ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) in Michigan and Ohio, said at the time. "ICE remains committed to arresting and removing criminal aliens in the interest of public safety and national security, despite local decisions to not honor detainers and jeopardize the safety of its citizens."

The press release stated that one of those individuals released was 59-year-old Somali national Hajir Muhammud, a convicted sex offender for crimes involving children and was re-arrested by ICE after being released by Franklin County. 

"Edgar Moreno-Soto, a 25-year-old Mexican national, was arrested Nov. 6, for felony firearm charges, drugs, among other charges," the press release said about another individual. "ICE lodged a detainer after his arrest. He was subsequently released after Franklin County declined to honor the ICE detainer. His current location is unknown."


The list of criminal aliens released includes those facing charges of domestic violence, assault and gun charges.

About a month after Baldwin took office in 2017, a spokesperson from his department told the Columbus Free Press the county would not arrest undocumented individuals simply for suspicion of being in the country illegally or notify ICE about those suspicions. Around the same time, the mayor of Columbus signed an executive order protecting illegal immigrants from arrest, unless a warrant had been issued, amid the Trump administration cracking down on "sanctuary cities."

"Technically, the city doesn't decide whether to detain an undocumented immigrant. Franklin County runs the jail and sets that policy," Fox 28 Columbus reported in March 2017. "The Franklin County Sheriff's Office said it's been their long-standing policy only to arrest people who have committed a crime and release them when they serve their time. At most, they'll give a courtesy call to immigration officials when someone is being released."

Last week, an illegal migrant TikTok influencer was arrested by ICE in Franklin County after posting a viral video encouraging migrants to squat in other people's homes.


The county’s stance on illegal immigration during Baldwin’s tenure prompted criticism from Brown’s Republican opposition.

"After Sherrod Brown defended defunding the police and said police perpetuate institutionalized racism, it’s not surprising one of the only law enforcement officials he could find for his sham ad runs a county that refuses to cooperate with ICE," Philip Letsou, spokesperson for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told Fox News Digital.

"Brown worked hand-in-hand with Joe Biden to create the border crisis that’s flooding our country with fentanyl. He’ll have to answer for that in November," he said.

Reagan McCarthy, communications director for Brown's GOP challenger, Bernie Moreno, told Fox News Digital that President Biden and Brown's "open-border policies, including sanctuary cities, are destroying our nation."


"Under their failed leadership and reversal of the effective Trump-era policies, countless lawless individuals have been released into our communities," McCarthy said. "Brown talks tough, but the border invasion and fentanyl crisis occurred under his watch. In November, Ohioans will reject his empty promises and send an outsider to the Senate to secure our border and deport illegals."

Fox News Digital reached out to Baldwin's office for comment and did not receive a response.

"Sherrod has worked with Republicans and Democrats to secure hundreds of millions for Ohio law enforcement officers, increase the number of border patrol agents at the southern border, and crack down on the chemical suppliers and traffickers of dangerous fentanyl in China and Mexico," Reeves Oyster, Friends of Sherrod Brown campaign spokesperson, told Fox News Digital.

"While Sherrod is fighting to secure the border and protect Ohioans, Bernie Moreno opposed the bipartisan border security bill backed by border patrol agents because he isn’t looking out for Ohioans."

The Brown campaign pointed Fox News Digital to several examples of Brown working across the aisle on border security, including supporting the recent Senate immigration bill that was called by some as the most "conservative in decades," working with GOP Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina to pass the FEND Off Fentanyl Act and securing hundreds of millions of dollars for law enforcement in Ohio.

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