Community voicing concern aboout illegal immigrant program supported by Tulsa Sheriff

Posted at 8:07 PM, Jun 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-13 21:07:47-04

Tulsa Sheriff Vic Regalado ran and won on a platform of fighting illegal immigration, but today he received backlash from community members.

A handful of people voiced opposition to a program that allows the sheriff's office to hold illegal immigrant inmates for possible deportation.

The decision was tabled Monday after commissioners wanted more time to hear from residents who feel they could be targeted by this program, but Regalado says he’s ready to set the record straight about the program he wants to keep. 

"My community is afraid. They're afraid to speak up," said Tulsan Jose Vega.

Vega, with Oklahomans for Equality, says he stood up for undocumented Tulsans who are worried they could be deported at any time by deputies under the 287G program.

"You want to give your family a better life. So that's why you pack your family and come to this country...freedom," said Vega.  

Others joined him, pleading with commissioners to reconsider allowing more staff training with immigration and customs enforcement. However, it's a program Sheriff Regalado has stood by since his campaign.

"My parents came to America the right way. This community I've sworn to protect won't become a sanctuary for those who break the law," said Regalado.

He says there are too many misconceptions about the program.

"The authority under 287G for Tulsa County Sheriff's does not extend outside the walls of David L. Moss," explained Regalado.

He says only undocumented people facing criminal charges are placed under an "ICE” hold. Those cases are given to the federal government, which decides on possible deportation. He says about 154 inmates are on hold in Tulsa County for crimes ranging from DUI to murder.

"We do under rule of law and if you're committing crimes, regardless of what community you're committing those crimes in, we don't want you here," said Regalado.

Meanwhile, Vega says he isn't afraid to speak out for the ones that are too frightened to come forward.

“Like Commissioner Keith said, she's hearing from a community that she hasn't heard from before. Well, we need to knock that door down and have her hear all of our voices," said Vega. 

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