LatinaLista — Oklahoma has become one of the most punitive states in targeting undocumented immigrants.
Putting into effect House Bill 1804 on November 1, Oklahoma’s state legislature wants to make life as difficult as possible for undocumented immigrants.
The rationale is to drive these people out of the state. It seems though the new law isn’t working fast enough for some officials.
So, they’ve stooped to operating their own version of a sting operation using a 16-year-old son as bait for his parents.
Oklahoma’s House Bill 1804 makes it “illegal to knowingly transport undocumented immigrants, creates barriers to hiring illegal immigrants and requires proof of citizenship to receive certain government benefits.”
Yet, the overall factor is that local law enforcement seems to be working with ICE to identify, detain and deport undocumented immigrants that are caught — or “trapped.”
A story reported by Hispano de Tulsa of Tulsa, Oklahoma, one of the hardest areas hit by HB 1804 and suffering a toll on the local Latino community, is about a 16-year-old boy who was stopped by police at a makeshift checkpoint that our sources tell us are now randomly being set up around the state to catch undocumented immigrants driving without licenses or insurance.
This boy was caught at one of these checkpoints and arrested. A friend who was with him was told by the officer that the boy would be released if someone came and paid his $500 fine. The friend was released and immediately called the boy’s family.
The boy’s father went to the police station to pay his son’s fines but was told that the boy was no longer eligible for release because he was found to be undocumented and a “hold” had been put on him. Understandably upset that his son would be locked up in jail, the father returned home.
Two hours later, the family received a phone call from someone who identified himself as Sheriff Lopez. Lopez, speaking in Spanish, said that because the boy was a minor he was eligible to be released if someone came down to the station and could prove his age.
The whole family jumped into the car, even the boy’s pregnant wife, to get him out of jail. When they got to the station, the mother told the father to stay in the car while she went inside with her daughter-in-law and 14-year-old son who would translate for her. The thinking was that the son might be released more quickly if it was only the mother and the other two.
Well, the three of them entered the station and the 14-year-old told the officer on duty who they were and that they had come for the 16-year-old. The officer on duty told the trio to wait while he made a phone call. After a few seconds, seven ICE agents showed up and surrounded the three.
Without saying anything about the 16-year-old, the agents proceeded to interrogate the three about their legal status. When it was determined that they were undocumented, they were arrested near midnight without being charged with a crime of any kind.
The 14-year-old made a quick phone call on his cell to his father to let him know what happened. The mother got on the phone and told the father to stay away lest he be apprehended as well. Afterwards, The mother was so upset that she fainted.
While the ICE agents interrogated the young wife of the 16-year-old, she told the agents that her mother lived in Tulsa too. They immediately told her to call her mother so she could bring her ID and she would be free to go. Not surprisingly, the girl refused.
Finally, at 4 a.m., officials released the girl. But they kept the two boys and their mother.
When leaders from the local Latino community went to the station demanding answers for the entrapment, officials stated that the 14-year-old had been released. He had not. In fact, he reported later that he had been pressured to sign a document saying that he voluntarily agreed to be deported.
He wouldn’t sign but was put on a bus, along with his mother and brother, and the three were deported to Mexico.
These kinds of tactics undermine any trust or positive image law enforcement needs to work with local communities.
If ever there was an example as to why local law enforcement should not team up with ICE to enable these kinds of interrogations this is it.
This story and how ICE agents apprehended members of this family has circulated around the Tulsa community to the point that local Latinos do not trust the police — and where there is no trust, there is no respect either.
If the government was really interested in safeguarding this country from domestic terrorism, they would want the help of all the communities in this country. In their shortsightedness, they are alienating the one community who could provide the most information if it is to be believed that some terrorists hide among the undocumented immigrants looking for work.
Using a mother’s love for her child to entrap a family is a sad situation that only goes to show how low some in this country have reached when it comes to seeing immigrants as less than human.