Tulsa County Sheriff Vic Regalado and County Commissioner Ron Peters reiterated their support for the Sheriff’s Office’s participation in the Immigration and Customs Enforcement 287(g) program on Tuesday, with Regalado saying those who oppose the partnership are “anti what’s right.”
Under the 287(g) program, some people being held in the Tulsa County jail on certain charges may be held for immigration officials once local charges are resolved.
Opponents of the Sheriff’s Office’s participation say immigrants, legal and illegal, are being harassed and jailed for minor offenses such as burned-out tail lights.
Regalado forcefully denied that, telling the Republican Women’s Club of Tulsa County on Tuesday that only people charged with serious crimes have their residency status checked.
He said the “least serious” charge triggering a 287(g) check is “multiple DUIs,” or driving under the influence. A database kept by the Sheriff’s Office seems to confirm that, and Peters said about half of those held in recent months were charged with DUI.
Regalado said 2% of those held at the county jail fall under the 287(g) program.
“Two-eighty-seven-g is not anti-immigrant,” Regalado said. “It’s anti-criminal.”
Regalado seemed particularly steamed about a letter to the editor of the Tulsa World that asked whether deputies might join in the “pre-dawn raids” on suspected illegal immigrants promised by President Donald Trump.
“Not only is it a lie, but it creates a frenzy and, quite frankly, fear in our immigrant communities,” Regalado said.
Opponents of the program argue that that is exactly the point — that simply being part of anything that links local law enforcement to ICE makes legal and illegal immigrants less likely to cooperate with officials or to report crimes, thus counteracting the stated purpose of removing dangerous people from the community.
Regalado said that is not the case as long as people — and especially women — understand that reporting a crime will not lead to deportation.
He said women are sometimes reluctant to report abuse by a partner for fear that the partner will be deported, but he said there are support services for women and children in such situations. In any event, he said, they should not remain in unsafe relationships.
“I hear we are tearing families apart,” Regalado said. “Every day at Tulsa County jail, we have families torn apart. American citizens, families, being torn apart because of crime, … mental illness, substance abuse. … It’s not us tearing them apart, folks. People have to take responsibility for their actions.”
Peters echoed Regalado, saying local officials have an obligation to remove dangerous people from the community and to cooperate with federal authorities.
Peters and Regalado’s audience was a friendly one. The club organized support for the 287(g) program at a recent Tulsa County Commission meeting, and on Tuesday, Peters and Regalado promised to notify the organization if it needs to show up at meetings or events in the future.
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