View Full Version : Tulsa's view on illegal immigration



metro
07-09-2007, 09:22 AM
Well, Tulsa made the front page of MSNBC today, unfortunately it doesn't sound necessarily good.


Tulsa's illegal immigration wreck
For reader, accident with apparent illegal alien crystallized city's changes
By Kari Huus
Reporter
MSNBC
Updated: 5:37 a.m. CT July 9, 2007
In our first Gut Check America vote, thousands of readers around the country rated illegal immigration as the issue of most concern for them. Among them was Gary Rutledge, a Tulsa, Okla., college professor who wrote about being involved in a traffic accident with an apparent illegal immigrant. Here is our report on what we found when we traveled to Tulsa to follow up on his story:
TULSA, Okla. - “Our sovereignty is under direct attack,” warns a commanding voice emanating from a pool of light in the corner of an otherwise dark airplane hangar. Dan Howard, an airplane salesman by day, is in the middle of his weekly two-hour radio show titled Outraged Patriots, a nighttime broadcast devoted entirely to the topic of illegal immigration.

Howard, who charges that the U.S. government is failing in its duty to protect the country from a “silent invasion” by illegal immigrants, taps into a deep vein of anger and unease in this conservative south central city, where many longtime residents feel besieged by a recent wave of mostly Hispanic newcomers.

That rising tide of resentment is palpable in the city’s Latino community.

At Plaza Santa Cecilia, a mall filled with Latino shops in East Tulsa, business is down as much as 40 percent, vendors say.

“It’s very quiet,” said Edith, a 17-year-old shopkeeper who didn’t want to give her last name. “Everyone is staying home because of this immigration stuff.”

The tensions of Tulsa mirror those in many other U.S. cities that have experienced sharp increases in Hispanic immigration in recent years. But other factors are at work here as well.

City on the leading edge
Tulsa is on the leading edge of local and state efforts to crack down on illegal immigration following passage by the Oklahoma Legislature of what is arguably the toughest anti-illegal immigration measure in the nation. The Tulsa City Council also embraced the get-tough approach by adopting a resolution calling on police officers to check the immigration status of “all suspected illegal aliens.”

Those actions have sparked a fierce political battle, spread fear among Hispanics — both legal residents and those in the country illegally — and triggered an angry public face-off between demonstrators on either side of the great divide.

Among the longtime residents shaken by the changes engulfing his city is Gary Rutledge, an MSNBC.com reader who said the demographic shift took his family and friends by surprise.

“It’s happened so quickly and our neighborhoods have changed so rapidly,” said Rutledge, a political science professor at nearby Rogers State University.

In East Tulsa, just across the main thoroughfare from his comfortable brick home, the broad avenues are now peppered with signs in Spanish and malls catering to Latino shoppers — offering everything from soccer wear and piñatas to check cashing services and Latin pop music.

“That whole part of the city has become a miniature Juarez or Tijuana or whatever you want to call it,” said Rutledge.

Like many longtime residents, Rutledge is quick to say that he is not opposed to immigration by legal means. But he says he objects to being unwillingly taken over by another culture as the result of unchecked illegal immigration.

“I’m very concerned that this last wave (of immigrants) has no interest in becoming Americanized,” he said.

Fallout from federal inaction
It was Rutledge’s story of a car crash involving an apparent illegal immigrant that led MSNBC.com to Tulsa. But when we arrived we encountered a bigger pileup: the chaotic fallout of a federal framework that neither prevents illegal immigrants from entering the U.S. to work nor provides a way for them to gain legal status.

That Catch -22 has forced local jurisdictions like Tulsa to seek their own solutions to the explosive and complex issue.

“Increasingly, because there’s no consistent federal law, states and cities are cobbling together immigration laws on their own,” says Sheryl Lovelady, assistant to Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor. In Tulsa, Lovelady said, such laws “have caused a lot of confusion, inconsistency and fear, mainly in the Hispanic community.”


Tulsa, a city built on oil some 500 miles from the Mexican border, has a population of just over 380,000, including about 40,000 Latino or Hispanic residents, according to 2005 Census estimates. The pace of Hispanic immigration has been quickening, and local newspapers and politicians believe the number is now closer to 50,000.

For Rutledge, a car accident personalized the issue. He and his wife were waiting in their pickup at a traffic light one evening when they were hit from behind by a vehicle traveling about 30 miles an hour. They not badly hurt, only stunned.

More shocking, though, was what they heard from the police officer who responded to the accident: The other driver, a young Hispanic man, did not speak English, did not have a driver’s license or insurance. The officer suspected the man was an illegal immigrant, Rutledge said, but he did not check his immigration status because such inquiries weren’t allowed in misdemeanor cases.

Before taking the other driver to jail, Rutledge said, the officer told him he should just go home and forget about it.

‘There's not much to be done’
“He said, ‘We do a lot of this kind of thing and we can tell you that there's not much to be done about it,’” Rutledge recalled.

It’s not clear what happened to the suspect after that. Tulsa police were not able to locate an accident report on the incident.

But officers said that the maximum penalty the man could have faced for driving without a license, a misdemeanor, would be 30 days in jail. Driving without insurance is only a ticketable offense.

Rutledge said he was floored by the experience. Not only would his own insurance company have to absorb the cost for repairing his truck, but the other driver was soon going to be back on the streets.

“It was … a feeling of helplessness,” he said. “There's no recourse, there's nothing to do.”

Rutledge began comparing notes with friends and family and found that many had a similar story with a similar outcome. That got him thinking about the bigger picture.

“I think that when someone comes in this country illegally, it starts a tradition or culture,” he said. “You come in illegally; everything you do from that point on is illegal. And so it's almost impossible to get a driver’s license or insurance so you just start breaking one law after another. I think it’s seductive. I think after a while ... you don't pay too much attention to rule of law that this country was established on.”


Making way for newcomers
While Rutledge’s eye-opening experience occurred behind the wheel, the immigration surge has had an even more striking impact on the Tulsa school system. With many of the immigrant workers in their child-bearing years, the population of Hispanic kids in the school is growing 3 percent a year and will constitute 25 percent of the student body by 2020, the district projects.

The city started its first programs to teach non-English speakers just five years ago, and now has 6,000 students in remedial English language classes, said Nilda Reyes, director of equity and diversity for Tulsa schools.

The sole mission of Newcomer International School, which opened in 2004, is to help its students — about 250 at any given time — become proficient in English so they can make a transition to mainstream classes. The school district also is making plans to expand remedial English teaching in higher grades, and is offering Spanish courses to teachers and looking to hire additional bilingual staff.

As in other communities, Tulsa’s medical system has taken a hit, too. Hospitals have scrambled to find enough interpreters to handle the crush of non-English speakers descending on emergency rooms, bringing in children and housekeepers in some cases, said Tulsa World immigration reporter Leigh Bell.

One program run by Catholic Charities offers prenatal care to women without medical insurance or access to Medicare — about 500 at any given time — the vast majority of them illegal immigrants from Mexico, said Tim Sullivan, executive director of the nonprofit agency. The early care helps avert later medical problems that put even more pressure on emergency rooms and other medical facilities.

While these pressures are not unique to Tulsa, the response to them is.

Touch new rules target illegals
Local and state governments here have crafted rules to curb illegal immigration that are arguably the toughest in the nation.

In May, Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry signed into law HB 1804, also known as the Oklahoma Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act of 2007. The law, which is scheduled to take effect on Nov. 1, makes it a felony to “knowingly transport, move … conceal, shelter or harbor” an illegal immigrant.

The law, which proclaims that “the State of Oklahoma finds that illegal immigration is causing economic hardship and lawlessness in this state,” requires companies that do contract work for the state to conduct stringent background checks to avoid hiring illegal immigrants. Other companies would open themselves to discrimination suits if they hired illegal workers over legal residents.

It also includes tough language requiring government agencies to ensure they are not providing services such as food stamps to those illegally in the country, though those services are already theoretically denied under federal law.

It is unclear how 1804 will be enforced — whether, for instance, nonprofit groups or individuals assisting illegal aliens could be sanctioned for “sheltering or harboring” them.

In the end, the bill might not pack much punch, according to David Blatt, policy director for Tulsa's Community Action Project, who said many of the provisions restate existing federal statutes or may be pre-empted by federal law.

"I liken it to a fiercely growling dog — one that is sending out a purposeful message that illegal immigrants are not welcome in Oklahoma," said Blatt. "... I think the bill will have minimal bite, but that is not to minimize the impact loud growling has on people."

Meantime, activists in the Hispanic community say they plan to mount a legal challenge to 1804 and the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma also is studying the bill to see if it passes constitutional muster.

Whose job is it?
In Tulsa, the battle has focused on the degree to which local law enforcement should be involved in checking immigration status, normally the province of federal immigration agents.

With the strong backing of conservative U.S. Rep. John Sullivan, a Republican who represents the congressional district that includes Tulsa, the Sheriff’s Department in surrounding Tulsa County is seeking training that would essentially deputize its officers to enforce immigration law. Under section 287 (g) of federal immigration law, the Department of Homeland Security can enter into compacts with state and local law enforcement agencies to create a “force multiplier” for the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) service, especially where federal resources are thin in the interior of the country.

Sullivan, among the Republicans strongly opposed to President Bush’s immigration reform bill as too lenient, also was behind the city’s move to crack down on illegal immigrants.

At his urging, Tulsa’s City Council passed a resolution in May that requires police officers to determine immigration status of “all suspected illegal aliens'' encountered in the course of their regular duties — a significant hardening of the current policy under which only those arrested on felony charges are checked.

The police chief is opposed to the measure, as is Tulsa’s Democratic Mayor Kathy Taylor, who is engaged in a bitter political battle with Sullivan.

Sullivan charges that Tulsa has become a “sanctuary city” for illegal immigrants under Taylor’s watch because they are usually not reported to the federal immigration officials when they commit minor crimes.

He also argues that by getting police involved in reporting immigration violations, the city will be able to demonstrate the need for an ICE office in Tulsa.

Bill's aim: Create fear in criminals, not roofers
“I want to create fear in rapists, drunk drivers, drug dealers and people who conceal weapons,” Sullivan told MSNBC.com. “It doesn’t mean getting the framer down from a roof where he’s working and arresting him."

Taylor argues that the congressman’s approach will cause panic among Hispanics and open the door for racial profiling. She also maintains that public safety will suffer if the people in the community don’t report crimes because they are fearful of immigration consequences.

Among those who share her concern is Mark Wollmershauser, a Tulsa police officer who has been on the beat for 30 years.

He said he could easily envision a scenario in which the teen daughter of an illegal immigrant is raped, but the family is afraid to report it, leaving the perpetrator on the street.

“They will not call us,” said Wollmershauser. “It will drive a stake through the community in terms of crime prevention.”

Taylor has refused to sign the council’s resolution and instead issued a “policy clarification” stating that police need only ask about immigration status for felony cases or misdemeanors that result in a trip to jail.


Emergency mode
Though it remains to be seen how these laws will be enforced if they survive expected court challenges, they already have stirred visible anxiety in Tulsa’s Hispanic community.

If the laws are enforced, “It will take us back to front-counterism, vigilantism and just overloading our (legal) system,” predicted Sebastian Lantos, a legal immigrant from Argentina who is spokesman for the Coalition of Hispanic Organizations.

Marcela Frescott, program coordinator of Hispanic services at Catholic Charities in Tulsa, said families with both legal and illegal immigrants are worried about getting split up, referring to parents who are in the U.S. illegally but have children who were born here and therefore are legal citizens.

“We had one person who … has four children born here in the U.S., and now they’re afraid to register the kids in school come August because they’re afraid that at that time they might (be) arrested” and deported, she said.

Howard, the radio show host who also founded an anti-illegal immigration group called Outraged Patriots, is not swayed by such pleas.

“These parents… have ultimate responsibility for their kids,” he said. “I have empathy for them … but I cannot give a waiver on the U.S. Constitution to make way for people who cause their own problem” by coming illegally.

He advocates an immediate moratorium on immigration, a clamp down on the border and tough rules that hold employers responsible for checking immigration status.

And he wants Washington to send a message to others contemplating sneaking across the border: “I want to see the administration send … a huge corps to deport tens if not hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens.”

If something is not done, he said darkly, “A lot of people believe there is civil war on the horizon.”

For the moment, Howard is celebrating the defeat of the federal immigration reform bill, which he opposed for offering a legal path to millions of people who entered the U.S. illegally. But he views its defeat in the Senate as merely a temporary success.

“You have got to stay vocal,” Howard told his listeners on a recent Monday night broadcast before going to a commercial break. “This issue is not over.”

Damage control
Hispanic leaders in Tulsa agree. They called an emergency meeting in June to work on ways of countering what they see as rising anti-immigrant sentiment and measures that they see as institutionalizing racism.

Among them is an information campaign to inform Hispanics of their rights if they are pulled over. Through a more ambitious effort called “Alto 1804” (“Stop 1804”), they are pooling legal and political capital to challenge the state law.

With emotions running so high, some residents and officials agree with Howard that violence is a real possibility.

Already, when some 1,500 mostly Hispanic demonstrators marched in East Tulsa on May 5 to protest HB 1804, they encountered an unexpected counterdemonstration, including members of Outraged Patriots and the Tulsa Minuteman Project, one of four organizations in Oklahoma listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “nativist extremist" organizations that target immigrants with their anger, not just immigration policy.

Police were watching the march and counterdemonstration and managed to keep the two sides apart. Only epithets and few eggs were hurled.

“We were able to get it worked out,” said Tulsa Police Capt. Steve Odom, who witnessed the confrontation. “But I do worry about the rhetoric because there’s a lot of information on both sides that’s misunderstood.”

Rutledge, the college professor, is among those who fear that the situation will get worse if nothing is done.

“It’s very serious,” he said. “I don’t know if we’re going to have a revolution. I don’t think America’s going to pick up guns and start marching, but it could be something similar to the breakdown of law and order we had during desegregation and … back in MLK era.”

© 2007 MSNBC Interactive
URL: Tulsa's illegal immigration wreck - Gut_Check - MSNBC.com (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19466978/)

Faith
07-09-2007, 04:15 PM
Tulsa also made the front page of MSN.Com in the entertainment section today as well. It is a Clay Aiken airplane confrontation story that happened in Tulsa.

OU Adonis
07-09-2007, 05:07 PM
What was wrong with what Tulsa is doing? Are you a supporter of illegals?

jbrown84
07-09-2007, 05:13 PM
Yeah, I don't see how this is negative publicity for Tulsa.

It shows that there are people fighting hard on both sides of the argument, and I don't think that's anything new. It's that way everywhere, especially in the south.

kmf563
07-10-2007, 09:32 AM
I don't see anything negative at all. I was in a similar incident myself. An illegal immigrant ran into my parked car, total damage, and the officer told me "too bad". They said there wasn't anything they could do because the guy was illegal. I ended up basically stalking the guy myself and threatening him with INS to get him to pay for my car. Once again I think this is another example of how we as Americans wait until it is an out of control problem before taking action. This whole problem should have been addressed many many many years ago.

jbrown84
07-10-2007, 01:23 PM
Yeah I have a friend who got clipped by a van labeled Latino Development Foundation or something of the sort. She didn't stop, so he followed her all the way back to the office of that place and it turned out to be the same thing.

I couldn't believe she ran when her employer's name was on the side of the van, but she knew she'd be in deep ****.

Misty
07-10-2007, 01:30 PM
Think about how the native americans felt when white people came and took over the land and changed the culture. What's the difference now? People are coming looking for a better opportunity. Sometimes paperwork is the last of your concerns when you need to take care of your family and dream of having a decent life.

kmf563
07-10-2007, 01:35 PM
The difference now is we are a much larger better educated population. We have laws for a reason as well as organized government. People just can't go around and do whatever they feel like because they are trying to better themselves.

Misty
07-10-2007, 01:36 PM
The difference now is we are a much larger better educated population. We have laws for a reason as well as organized government. People just can't go around and do whatever they feel like because they are trying to better themselves.

I'm not sure if you are serious or you posted that as a joke.

jbrown84
07-11-2007, 01:24 PM
Misty, you really think that illegals should get away w/ paying NO taxes, NO insurance, NO healthcare, etc?

Misty
07-11-2007, 02:12 PM
Misty, you really think that illegals should get away w/ paying NO taxes, NO insurance, NO healthcare, etc?

That is not at all even close to what I said. I have known many immigrants, some here legally and some illegally. I simply understand why they come here and have great sympathy for their situation. Once you actually make friends with people you understand their situation better. How can I judge someone that leaves Mexico for opportunity here when if the tables were turned, I’d do the exact same thing. I sympathize and understand. It’s also a common misconception that NO illegals pay taxes or for their own healthcare. Most of the illegals I have known pay taxes with a 900 series social security number or (ok, so this is illegal too) with someone else’s social security number. I know more Americans that get paid under the table and don’t pay their medical bills than I do illegal Mexicans. There are also tons of Americans that don’t carry car insurance. That’s my experience. When you listen to someone tell you the story of their life and about going to work in a factory after school each day as a child and feeling helpless and unable to support their family it touches you.

I think many of us forget that’s how we all got here, other than the Native Americans. Our forefathers were looking for a better life. That continues today. We are all damn lucky to have been born here. So many others dream of the lives we take for granted. Do I think it’s ok to ignore our laws and come here anyway? Well no. Do I understand why it’s done? Yes! Would I do it if I’d been raised in Mexico? Hell yeah.

I’ve been living in Austin so things are a little different there. It’s almost a non-issue there. The illegals are the hardest working people in town and they bring a lot to the economy. They do jobs that most of the rest of us don’t want. I’ve seen many of my friends pass up jobs (mostly construction/home remodeling) because they were either too hard or weren’t high paying enough. Well guess who takes those jobs and works-the illegals. It is what it is and they are a vital part of our society and economy.

Oh GAWD the Smell!
07-11-2007, 02:21 PM
Misty, you really think that illegals should get away w/ paying NO taxes, NO insurance, NO healthcare, etc?

As long as their getting paid $10 and a Big Mac a day?

Yes.

kmf563
07-11-2007, 02:29 PM
I totally missed that question from you Misty until just now. I was completely not joking. I won't get into a deep discussion on this issue because it really just makes my blood boil. I don't see how you can think that they help improve the economy based upon the handful that you know. I know a handful of people that don't do drugs, that doesn't mean we don't have drug problem in this country. I too grew up with a single parent who had to walk to three different jobs in order to support our family yet she found a way to pay taxes and provide health care. I'm not saying don't come to America, just do it legally and pay for things that I shouldn't have to pay for. And please go read Mexico's laws about illegal immigrants before you open up your arms and wait to hug them as they cross the border. I'm not saying they are good or bad people...just illegal people. I also am in favor of having different ways to make them legal. Those tests are just dumb. It's been proven time and time again that Americans can't even pass it.

Misty
07-11-2007, 03:27 PM
The economic impact statement isn't based on the handful of people I know:
U.S. economy gets lift from immigrants, though some hurt - May. 1, 2006 (http://money.cnn.com/2006/05/01/news/economy/immigration_economy/index.htm)
http://www.ggu.edu/about/headlines/attachment/04-04-06+Business+Week+-+Connelly.pdf
SR.com: Illegal aliens help subsidize U.S. economy (http://www.spokesmanreview.com/breaking/story.asp?ID=3803)

I lived in a neighborhood of mostly Mexicans (mostly illegal) and the money they spent is what kept the neighborhood alive. Rent, shops, restaurants, etc. Without them every business in this neighborhood would have had to close their doors. I think people tend to forget how many Americans abuse government resources and avoid taxes. It's wrong no matter who does it. Have you seen the figures on the number of Americans that don't have health insurance?

kmf563
07-11-2007, 03:52 PM
Ok, I don't see how them being illegal has anything to do with them helping that community. Wouldn't their LEGAL money have helped even more? And yes, all the rest of the people that avoid taxes and stick their hospital bills to us and abuse the welfare system p!$$ me off too.

rugbybrado
07-17-2007, 01:00 PM
I actually grew up and went to school with rutledges daughters.

Im very familur with the area of town he is talking about, 3 years ago i was with my mom and we were involved in a hit and run us in themiddle of the intersection(garnett and 21st) with spanish writing in old english covering its back window(dont remeber what it said now).

I dont know if he was a illegal immigrant because he never stopped after he hit us and took off. But im pretty sure since he didnt stop he didnt have insurance and commited a crime by not stopping.

over 5000 dollars worth of damage to her blazer....

So i can say first hand something needs to be done.

plmccordj
07-17-2007, 01:23 PM
Lets not forget this so called homeland security problem. If Osama wishes to come here, all he has to do is go to Juarez and walk across the bridge.

Easy180
07-17-2007, 02:03 PM
Lets not forget this so called homeland security problem. If Osama wishes to come here, all he has to do is go to Juarez and walk across the bridge.

No way Mexico let's that happen plm...They know if it ever happens their border fun will be done forever

plmccordj
07-17-2007, 02:04 PM
For them to even know would mean someone would be keeping track. We know that is not happening. Those that support the illegals like to call them undocumented. To know who is coming in and going out, one has to document. Haven't you ever been in an office environment when they put up an IN/OUT board for employees?

Those of us that do not support illegal aliens are often portrayed as racist. That is not true but rather demand documentation for our security.

Oh GAWD the Smell!
07-17-2007, 04:41 PM
I actually grew up and went to school with rutledges daughters.

Im very familur with the area of town he is talking about, 3 years ago i was with my mom and we were involved in a hit and run us in themiddle of the intersection(garnett and 21st) with spanish writing in old english covering its back window(dont remeber what it said now).

I dont know if he was a illegal immigrant because he never stopped after he hit us and took off. But im pretty sure since he didnt stop he didnt have insurance and commited a crime by not stopping.

over 5000 dollars worth of damage to her blazer....

So i can say first hand something needs to be done.

I had pretty much the same thing happen to me, except I was in a rental car...And it was a white dude with Nebraska plates driving.

Easy180
07-18-2007, 08:52 AM
For them to even know would mean someone would be keeping track. We know that is not happening. Those that support the illegals like to call them undocumented. To know who is coming in and going out, one has to document. Haven't you ever been in an office environment when they put up an IN/OUT board for employees?

Those of us that do not support illegal aliens are often portrayed as racist. That is not true but rather demand documentation for our security.

So you are saying a 6'5'' Muslim guy walking around in Mexico isn't going to be tracked by the gov't?

I can assure you they are either denying or tracking any Muslim coming into Mexico

If they screw up the border will be shut down tighter than the Israeli/Palestine border...They can't and won't let that happen...They aren't stupid

Major
08-24-2007, 10:57 PM
Thought you might like to see this:

The FBI is investigating an alleged human smuggling operation based in Chaparral, N.M., that agents say is bringing "Iraqis and other Middle Eastern" individuals across the Rio Grande from Mexico.

An FBI intelligence report distributed by the Washington, D.C. Joint Terrorism Task Force, obtained by the Blotter on ABCNews.com, says the illegal ring has been bringing Iraqis across the border illegally for more than a year.

The Blotter: FBI: Iraqis Being Smuggled Across the Rio Grande (http://blogs.abcnews.com/theblotter/2007/07/fbi-iraqis-bein.html)

Major
08-24-2007, 11:00 PM
Or this...

8/9/07: "A ranking House Republican yesterday demanded a hearing based on recent reports that Islamic terrorists embedded in the United States are teaming with Mexican drug cartels to fund terrorism networks overseas.

Rep. Ed Royce, ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs terrorism and nonproliferation subcommittee, said the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) document — first reported yesterday by The Washington Times — highlights how vulnerable the nation is when fighting the war on terrorism.

"I'll be asking the terrorism subcommittee to hold a hearing on the DEA report's disturbing findings," said Mr. Royce of California. "A flood of name changes from Arabic to Hispanic and the reported linking of drug cartels on the Texas border with Middle East terrorism needs to be thoroughly investigated."


http://washingtontimes.com/article/20070809/NATION/108090085/1002

Easy180
08-27-2007, 01:38 PM
My sources at an undisclosed Arby's location in Moore say the FBI 's report is false and misleading

:whisper: