Tulsa Mayor, Police Chief Respond To President’s Executive Order On Immigration
TULSA, Oklahoma - “I’ve heard from many in our city with questions about yesterday’s presidential executive order relative to immigration and local law enforcement. I’ve consulted our legal and policing experts at the City of Tulsa, and all are in agreement that this order does not call for a change in any of the practices already in place here. As your mayor, it is so important to me that law-abiding Tulsans know they can call our Police when they need help. I want our immigrant community in Tulsa to feel safe, feel welcome, and feel this is a place of opportunity for future generations of their families. That is the kind of city we are focused on building.”
That is a post from Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum’s Facebook page a day after President Donald Trump issued an executive order that focused on immigration and could withhold federal grant money from sanctuary cities.
According to CBS News, “sanctuary cities offer safe harbor for undocumented immigrants who might otherwise be deported by federal immigration law enforcement officials.”
The presidential order says, “Jurisdictions that willfully refuse to comply are not eligible to receive Federal grants, except as deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes by the attorney general or the secretary.” The order, however, does not specify how much or what kind of funding could be blocked.
While Tulsa is not a sanctuary city, Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan told our partner, The Frontier, earlier this month that the Tulsa Police Department wasn’t “in the business of enforcing federal immigration laws.” That’s a sentiment he reinforced Thursday.
The executive order doesn’t guarantee Tulsa police officers will be asked to enforce immigration laws, The Frontier says, but some fear it could create the possibility.
Jordan said, “I don’t want anyone to be a crime victim in the city and be afraid to call the police.”
The punishments cities may face under the order are vague. Trump’s order states, “As soon as practicable, by no later than one year after the date of this order” that fines and penalties could be assessed to “those who facilitate (the) presence (of illegal immigrants) in the United States.”
In interviews, Trump has promised to pull federal funding from remaining “sanctuary cities” – those that do not comply with federal immigration laws – which could impact Tulsans in any number of ways. For instance, TPD is currently outfitting its patrol officers with body-worn cameras purchased, in part, through a Department of Justice grant. That grant could theoretically be pulled if the federal government determines Tulsa has violated the new order.
Tulsa police officers have long said they are uninterested in a person’s immigration status, and as Jordan told The Frontier earlier this month, they do not want to potentially limit a person’s contact with police over fears of deportation.
But there could be other issues as well. TPD has groused for years about their officers being stretched thin. In fact, a study presented to the City Council last year that called for the hiring of an additional 200-or-so more officers played a key role in tens of millions of tax dollars being set aside for TPD under the Vision Tulsa tax extension.
But those additional officers have not yet been hired, and adding immigration duties may not be well-received by an already overextended police force.
Trump’s executive order was met with skepticism by Tulsa city councilors reached by The Frontier, and a local event called No Walls – a march starting in the Brady District and ending at City Hall – has been scheduled for Friday evening.