Officials: Raids aren't part of immigration law
BY NICOLE MARSHALL World Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
10/31/07 at 5:09 PM
Watch a slide show and read all the stories in a series on the immigration of thousands of people from Casa Blanca to Tulsa.
Read all of the Tulsa World’s coverage of House Bill 1804.
Local and state law enforcement agencies do
not expect major changes in their day-to-day
operations when House Bill 1804 takes effect
Authorities said that the law does not require, and they do not intend to do, raids seeking illegal immigrants.
"We just don't have
enough resources," said
Tulsa County Undersheriff
However, Tulsa deputies
partnered with Immigration and Customs Enforcement in June to begin their
stepped up efforts to verify
the status of people who
are arrested and booked
into the Tulsa Jail and
place ICE holds on illegal
Edwards said Tulsa
County is working with
ICE as part of the Criminal
Illegal Alien Program. He said deputies will also work with ICE on cases involving forged
documents, drug smuggling and organized
"People who violate the law have something
to worry about," Edwards said.
State Rep. Randy Terrill, the chief author of
House Bill 1804, said that once it becomes law,
law enforcement has a responsibility to enforce it, "and I would expect them to enforce all
the laws with equal vigor."
Misconceptions: Tulsa Police Chief Ron
Palmer said there are some misconceptions
about what actions the law requires law enforcement agencies to do. He said some people
believe that the law contains more law enforcement provisions that it actually has.
"I think a better understanding of the law
and what it actually means and what the police
can do with that law is imperative, not only
within my department, but
within the community itself
because I think there is a
about what the law actually
says," Palmer said.
There is one section of the
law that makes it unlawful for
anyone to transport illegal immigrants and there is another
section that makes it unlawful
to harbor illegal immigrants.
Anyone who violates those
sections could be convicted of
a felony punishable by not less
than one year or a fine of at
least $1,000, the law states.
"There are only two sections that we consider applicable to law enforcement, in the
field anyway, and the rest of it
is administrative action,"
When officers encounter
those situations, they will act
accordingly within the depart
"It is another law that we
have to consider along with all
the other laws," Palmer said.
Checks since June: In June,
Mayor Kathy Taylor issued a
policy clarification stating that
police will work with the Tulsa
Jail to conduct the immigration status checks on people
who are arrested on felonies
and in-custody misdemeanors
and the Police Department
will report the information to
But it also clearly says that
police will not stop, detain,
question or arrest anyone
based solely on suspicion that
the person is in the United
Palmer said that if something occurs during a traffic
stop that leads to an in-custody
arrest -- for instance if they
do not have a driver's license
-- then their status will be
checked in accordance with
the department's policy.
The law says that after Nov.
1 all legal identification -- including driver's licenses --
will only be issued to those
lawfully in the United States.
Therefore, a driver's license is
enough to prove one is not an
Edwards said each traffic
stop by a Tulsa County deputy
will be handled on a case-by-
Hispanic groups have expressed concerns that the law
might result in racial profiling.
However, Terrill, R-Moore,
said that HB 1804 does not target any particular race, ethnicity or national origin.
"There are safeguards in
the bill to prevent racial profiling," he said.
Since deputies partnered
with ICE to make the status
checks "more effective and expedient" several month ago,
they don't expect the number
of people being held for ICE to
increase after Thursday, said
Chief Deputy Tim Albin, who
oversees the Tulsa Jail.
"This is going to have very
little effect on us. This gives us
some laws at the state level,
but we are already enforcing
federal law because of the
partnership we have with
ICE," Edwards said.
Albin said that there are "a
host of things that can alert us
to the fact someone may be
here illegally or their status is
questionable," including their
documentation or lack of it.
Albin said that he did not
want to be too specific about
checks at the jail because it
might cause the detainees to
adapt to their methods and
would make the checks less
The ICE hold means that
authorities are verifying something about their status and
not everyone who receives a
hold is illegal, Albin said.
From June through last
week, jail workers conducted
999 status checks, resulting in
about 700 detainers. Of that
number, about 500 people
were actually turned over to
ICE, Albin said.
Other agencies: Things
won't change much for the
Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, either.
"We are an assistance agency so when we do an investigation we work hand-in-hand
with local agencies," spokeswoman Jessica Brown said.
The majority of the arrests
the agents make is in coordination with the local law enforcement agency. The prisoner is then transported to jail
where jail authorities check
their immigration status,
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol said Tuesday that it would
not have a statement about the
effect of the new law until
World Capitol Bureau reporter Angel
Riggs contributed to this story.
Nicole Marshall 581-8459
Ron Palmer: He said some people believe that the law contains more law enforcement provisions than it actually has.