The Tulsa City Council debates a plan that would have police checking citizenship. The new policy would only apply when police arrest someone on a felony complaint, such as murder or rape. It would not give police the authority to ask everyone about their citizenship, but The News On 6's Emory Bryan reports, some believe that would be the result.
Right now the police do not ask anyone about their citizenship, but this new policy would change that. Police would check the immigration status of people arrested for felony crimes, and report the illegals to immigration. The city says it's only a clarification of the law, but minorities say it's racist and confusing.
Dozens of people crowded around the council to watch the discussion, and most didn't like what they heard.
"The Hispanic leaders are spreading fear to their own, that's part of the problem," said Tulsa City Councilor Dennis Troyer.
The mayor and some councilors want Tulsa police to start checking citizenship of anyone they arrest for a felony crime. It's already being done once a suspect goes to jail, but this would have the police checking first.
"And I don't want to be reliant on other law enforcement agencies for what should be done in the city of Tulsa," said City Councilor John Eagleton.
The mayor blamed the federal government for ignoring the immigration problem and forcing local governments to act.
"It's an issue we have to address, but we need to address it humanely and carefully," Mayor Kathy Taylor said.
The mayor said the policy would clarify who will be asked, and who will not. Minority groups disagree.
"It's a very confusing situation, so if it's confusing to us here, you can imagine what it's like in the community," Francisco Trevino with the Tulsa Hispanic Chamber said.
The minority groups question the motives behind the change, and for some Tuesday's exchange made that clear.
"We have had to come to this to get this kind of reaction to get you people to listen," said Tulsa City Councilor Dennis Troyer.
"When you say "You people" you don't understand what that is," Pastor Carlton Pearson said.
The council decided to put the issue on the Thursday night agenda where it will be discussed again.
To read the draft resolution being considered this week by the Tulsa City Council on police checks of immigration status, click here.
Originaly aired 5/22/2007 5:00 PM - Updated 5/22/2007 7:54 PM
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