Could a Policy in Ohio Change the Way Bay County Deals With Illegal Immigrants?

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A sheriff in Ohio is creating a nationwide controversy for his comments about cracking down on illegal immigrants with fake documents.

Some claim the policy will lead to profiling, others say he's just doing his job.

Bay County has a Hispanic population that's growing very quickly. Would local authorities ever consider a similar policy?

McKeithen says, "We have people that watch other states and other sheriff's offices, and whenever they develop programs that work in our area we certainly feed off those programs."

Sheriff Frank McKeithen is closely watching what happens in Lima, Ohio. He wants to see how Allen County Sheriff Dan Beck's plan to crack down on illegal immigrants with fake IDs works.

McKeithen has similar problems here, but be believes the issue is out of a sheriff's jurisdiction.

McKeithen says, "You can't just ride down the road and determine that this is an illegal alien or that this is an illegal alien. There's a lot of process you have to follow."

McKeithen is well aware of the growing illegal immigrant population in Bay County. He estimates it to be around 2,000 people.

The sheriff says the number of illegal immigrants has increased dramatically since construction began on condominiums on Panama City Beach, but says there's nothing he can do about it.

McKeithen says, "We certainly do not agree with the fact that we have all of these illegal immigrants here, however we're looking at it from a law enforcement stand point."

McKeithen says he's spoken to immigration and customs enforcement, and they've told him dealing with illegal immigrants is a federal issue, so McKeithen says he's leaving it at that.

"It's certainly my responsibility to protect the citizens of this county," says McKeithen, “but it's not my responsibility to go to the border and stop these people from coming over.

Sheriff McKeithen says he will continue talks with immigration and custom officials to find new and different ways of dealing with illegal immigration.