Thursday, October 2, 2008

Hispanic leaders concerned about racial profiling at Tulsa State Fair (Tulsa World)

Hispanic leaders concerned about racial profiling at Tulsa State Fair

By DEON HAMPTON World Staff Writer
10/2/2008 12:30 PM
Last Modified: 10/2/2008 1:50 PM

The arrest of two Hispanics and the presence of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the Tulsa State Fair has area Hispanic leaders concerned about possible racial profiling.

Sheriff’s deputies stopped the two Hispanics at the fair last Friday for underage drinking, said Tim Counts, an ICE spokesman. A question about their legal immigration status arose and ICE officers were called to the scene, where they arrested the two, Counts said.

The men, who are under 21, are eligible for a court hearing and a judge will determine whether they will be deported.

The presumption is Hispanics are guilty until proven innocent, said Marvin Lizama, attorney and president of American Dream Coalition, an immigrant advocacy group.

Besides Hispanics spending money on entrance fees, food and games, there’s enough law enforcement at the fair without ICE officers, he said.

Sebastian Lantos, a House District 67 Democratic nominee, said he doesn’t have a problem with arresting criminals, including Hispanics.

However, “We want to make sure Hispanics aren’t being targeted,” Lantos said. “We don’t want any profiling.”

Law enforcement agencies patrolling the fair say they aren’t targeting Hispanics. Tulsa County Sheriff’s Deputy Randy Chapman said, “We have other things to take care of.”

However, he didn’t rule out the arrest of those without proof of citizenship. If illegal immigrants are stopped for a law violation, officers still have a job to conduct, Chapman said.

Counts also said ICE officers aren’t searching for illegal immigrants and that they only respond to incidents as requested by other law agencies. He declined to say how many ICE officers are working the fair.

On Sept. 21, U.S. Rep. John Sullivan announced an office will open in Tulsa, possibly later this month, to go after fugitive aliens and those with criminal records.

The Fugitive Operations Team’s office will focus on national security, community safety, child sex offenders and those with prior convictions for violent crimes.

First established in 2003, Fugitive Operations Teams give top priority to cases involving aliens who pose a threat to national security and community safety.

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