Tulsa: July 2007 Archives

Today MSNBC had a very thorough front-page report on its website about Tulsa and illegal immigration. The story, "Tulsa in Turmoil: The Illegal Immigration Wreck," originated with an email from Rogers State University political science professor Gary Rutledge, an east Tulsa resident who wrote msnbc.com about a traffic accident involving an apparent illegal immigrant and about the massive changes in his part of town:

For Rutledge, a car accident personalized the issue. He and his wife were waiting in their pickup at a traffic light one evening when they were hit from behind by a vehicle traveling about 30 miles an hour. They were not badly hurt, only stunned.

More shocking, though, was what they heard from the police officer who responded to the accident: The other driver, a young Hispanic man, did not speak English, did not have a driver’s license or insurance. The officer suspected the man was an illegal immigrant, Rutledge said, but he did not check his immigration status because such inquiries weren’t allowed in misdemeanor cases.

Before taking the other driver to jail, Rutledge said, the officer told him he should just go home and forget about it.

“He said, ‘We do a lot of this kind of thing and we can tell you that there's not much to be done about it,’” Rutledge recalled.

It’s not clear what happened to the suspect after that. Tulsa police were not able to locate an accident report on the incident.

But officers said that the maximum penalty the man could have faced for driving without a license, a misdemeanor, would be 30 days in jail. Driving without insurance is only a ticketable offense.

Rutledge said he was floored by the experience. Not only would his own insurance company have to absorb the cost for repairing his truck, but the other driver was soon going to be back on the streets.

“It was … a feeling of helplessness,” he said. “There's no recourse, there's nothing to do.”

The MSNBC.com report also covers the passage of HB 1804, the application by the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office to participate in the Federal "287(g)" program allowing local law enforcement agencies to place immigration detainers on suspected illegals, the efforts of U. S. Rep. John Sullivan to boost immigration enforcement in Tulsa, and the City Council's resolution demanding immigration status checks on those arrested by Tulsa Police officers:

Sullivan, among the Republicans strongly opposed to President Bush’s immigration reform bill as too lenient, also was behind the city’s move to crack down on illegal immigrants.

At his urging, Tulsa’s City Council passed a resolution in May that requires police officers to determine immigration status of “all suspected illegal aliens'' encountered in the course of their regular duties — a significant hardening of the current policy under which only those arrested on felony charges are checked.

The police chief is opposed to the measure, as is Tulsa’s Democratic Mayor Kathy Taylor, who is engaged in a bitter political battle with Sullivan.

Sullivan charges that Tulsa has become a “sanctuary city” for illegal immigrants under Taylor’s watch because they are usually not reported to the federal immigration officials when they commit minor crimes.

He also argues that by getting police involved in reporting immigration violations, the city will be able to demonstrate the need for an ICE office in Tulsa....

Taylor has refused to sign the council’s resolution and instead issued a “policy clarification” stating that police need only ask about immigration status for felony cases or misdemeanors that result in a trip to jail.

By the way, the Sheriff's Office learned today that they have been accepted into the 287(g) program. Deputies and detention officers will be undergoing training beginning at the end of August. The program will be fully in place by the end of September.

Toward the end of the story, there was this about the Cinco de Mayo protests:

Already, when some 1,500 mostly Hispanic demonstrators marched in East Tulsa on May 5 to protest HB 1804, they encountered an unexpected counterdemonstration, including members of Outraged Patriots and the Tulsa Minuteman Project, one of four organizations in Oklahoma listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “nativist extremist" organizations that target immigrants with their anger, not just immigration policy.

Police were watching the march and counterdemonstration and managed to keep the two sides apart. Only epithets and few eggs were hurled.

The counterdemonstration was widely publicized, announced on radio, and press-released to local media. It was scheduled to begin four hours before and end one hour before the start of the the pro-illegal-immigration demonstration. This is the first I have heard about eggs being thrown by either side.

I've met several members of the Tulsa Minuteman Project and have been to one of their meetings. I haven't seen or heard anything nativist, anti-legal-immigrant, or anti-Hispanic. The only anger I heard -- very mild anger at that -- was directed at the public officials who refuse to enforce immigration laws.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Tulsa category from July 2007.

Tulsa: June 2007 is the previous archive.

Tulsa: August 2007 is the next archive.

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