Tulsa's mayor is considering a strict new immigration ordinance Friday. The city council passed a resolution, requiring police to check the immigration status of anyone under arrest. News On 6 anchor Terry Hood reports officers say it will change the way they do their job.
Tempers flared past the boiling point, as the hottest of topics took center stage at Tulsa's city council.
Dozens on both sides of the issue fueled the heated debate as councilors beefed up a resolution, making police responsible for verifying suspected criminals' immigration status.
"You think the Hispanic community's gonna line up to make that happen if you're getting ready to do what you're doing right now?â€ said Tulsa city councilor Jack Henderson.
"I think we'd be kidding ourselves if we didn't think it'd have an effect on how they feel about us," said Tulsa Police Officer Jason Willingham.
Willingham says the ordinance could undo goodwill built in the Hispanic community. It could also tax officers.
"Because the fact remains anytime you're talking paperwork process, procedures, it takes time,â€ said Willingham. â€œWhether that's five minutes, whether that's two hours, what difference does it make? The bottom line is that's still time those officers are not on the street."
Willingham says the added immigration checks could decrease 911 response times. He says it's a lot of work. At the same time, federal immigration agencies haven't shown commitment to rooting out the problem in Tulsa, leaving citizens to foot the bill for enforcement.
"Right now, the funding is not there from the federal government, and I think the citizens of Tulsa County are really going to be the ones impacted by this,â€ Willingham said.
Mayor Kathy Taylor only wanted police to check immigration status in felony arrests. She'll have to decide whether to sign or veto the stricter policy.
Tulsa's ordinance would be in addition to the recent state immigration legislation, and existing federal law.
Watch the video: Mayor Considering New Immigration Resolution
5/22/2007 Tulsa City Council Mulls Immigration Plan
5/24/2007 - Still No Decision In Tulsa Immigration Plan
5/25/2007 - City Council Approves Immigrant Status Checks