Key Officials Meet To Discuss The City's Immigration Policy
Tulsa's mayor attempts to clarify city policy on dealing with illegal immigrants in a high level meeting with federal officials. It was the first meeting between the key officials who determine what happens when an illegal alien is arrested. The News On 6's Emory Bryan reports politicians, police and immigration were all in one room, and out of that meeting, the mayor says, came at least one breakthrough on how they can all work together.
Tulsa's mayor says one big change could come out of one small piece of information gathered from her meeting with immigration and customs.
"I think they will respond more promptly after this meeting," said Mayor Kathy Taylor. "I think Tulsa has their attention, and we have the right numbers to call so that this information gets to them immediately."
The mayor said Tulsa Police didn't have the right phone numbers for ICE but now they do. A recent resolution from the city council, to have the police ask about citizenship, has caused worry among the Hispanic community, but the mayor says it's no change from a longstanding policy that just wasn't clear.
"In fact, the Tulsa Police Department policy does allow police to ask about citizenship upon arrest," said Taylor.
Hispanics and other minority groups have worried the resolution would encourage racial profiling, but Congressman John Sullivan, who was in the meeting and supports the resolution, says that's not what will happen.
"In no way shape or form does this mean rounding people up," said Sullivan. "We're talking about a criminal element. We want all people who commit crimes. We want that checked, and then sent to immigration and enforcement."
He says ICE wants better and faster information from Tulsa Police about who they arrest.
"They may be asking, but the dissemination of that information isn't making its way to immigration customs and enforcement, and we need that information to get to ICE in a timely manner," Sullivan said.
Sullivan says he's pushing for a local ICE office and the mayor agrees it would help. Right now, even if the information gets to immigration agents, the closest and only office in Oklahoma is in Oklahoma City.
Originally aired 5/31/2007 9:48 AM - Updated 5/31/2007 7:15 PM