Outrage expressed on how the feds are dealing with illegal immigrants

Wednesday, September 22nd 2004, 9:45 am
By: News On 6

First District Congressman John Sullivan is outraged over what he says is another botched job by what used to be called the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

News on 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright says Catoosa Police stopped a truck full of illegal immigrants early Wednesday morning, but they were released.

A Catoosa police officer stopped a pickup truck for going 70 MPH in a 55 MPH speed zone. He found eight people crammed in the front of the truck and another 10 people in back. Men, women and children who said they'd just left Mexico two days ago and were headed to Columbia, Tennessee to work in the tobacco fields.

Police called what used to be called INS but is now called ICE or Immigration and Custom Enforcement. The ICE has only have five agents in the state and they're all in Oklahoma City. They say it would take them too long to get here and since Catoosa Police had no place to hold the illegals, they should simply let them go.

One of the suspects was arrested on cocaine charges.

"What's happened is inexcusable, it's unconscionable and it should've never happened." Congressman John Sullivan just announced last month that he was going to try to get Immigration to allow local police and deputies the power to deport illegal immigrants, after fighting this issue for more three years. "They say they're sorry and it won't happen again and it does happen again. They say they're going to change. I've been lied to repeatedly."

Of course, while some call for a crackdown on illegals, President Bush said earlier this year, he wants to make it legal for millions of illegal immigrants to stay in this country. So with a policy that's not exactly clear and agencies that are understaffed, this is often the result.

Lori Fullbright talked with the immigration folks and they told her they do answer plenty of calls in this part of the state, they just couldn't Tuesday night. They say their priority is criminal illegals, not just the truckloads coming here to live.

Congressman Sullivan says he'll draft legislation that puts an immigration office in Tulsa. This problem is not new, but many people thought it would get better when the US beefed up security after 9-11, but clearly, it's still a problem.