Program To Identify Illegal Immigrants Continues Despite Racial Profiling Complaints

Monday, June 20th 2016, 7:46 pm
By: Emory Bryan

A program to identify illegal immigrants will continue in Tulsa County, despite complaints of racial profiling by police and mistrust of law enforcement.

When an inmate goes into the Tulsa County jail their immigration status is checked, and if there's a problem, Tulsa County can hold them for the feds.

Because of that, some Hispanics worry they'll end up in jail and be deported over something small.

Advocates for immigrants packed the county commissioners meeting, complaining immigration enforcement through the jail subjects innocent people to extra scrutiny they don't deserve.

“Please, please I beg you to stop. Stop. Stop. Leave us alone, let us work,” Tony Domingez said.

It was up to the commissioners to decide if the sheriff should continue to check immigration status at the jail and continue to hold immigration offenders for the feds - what the sheriff says is the majority of the 150 or so people being held right now.

“We want to establish open communication lines, but we want to operate under fact, not misinformation or flat out lies,” Sheriff Vic Regalado said.

Several people told commissioners of repeatedly being stopped for minor offenses and having their cars searched.

Regelio Contreras said, “I just feel like I was racially profiled. And when I get home I checked my blinkers and they were working.”

"That creates a tension between law enforcement and the immigrant community,” said Jordan Mazariegos with the Hispanic Coalition.

A regional director of ICE said immigrants who aren't criminals shouldn't worry, in part because the government isn't after them, and partly because they don't have room to keep them all.

“It's very unlikely they'll be arrested if they don't fit the priority. Right now we're at 99 percent,” said ICE Deputy Field Officer Robert Guadian.

Despite the complaints, commissioners voted to continue the effort.

The sheriff insisted only people who end up in jail have their immigrations status checked.