Results 1 to 3 of 3

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

  1. #1
    Senior Member Brian503a's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005
    California or ground zero of the invasion

    Utah immigration enforcement: Handcuffed cops

    Article Last Updated: 4/23/2006 04:07 AM

    Utah immigration enforcement: Handcuffed cops
    Blanding police are powerless to enforce immigration law, and the feds have stopped coming

    By Nate Carlisle
    The Salt Lake Tribune
    Salt Lake Tribune

    BLANDING - The Chevy Suburban drifted into the oncoming lane Tuesday night. Police Chief Mike Halliday pulled it over and found the driver to be an undocumented Latino immigrant. Inside the Suburban were 11 other Latinos who likely were clients of a smuggling operation.

    But no one was taken to jail or deported. Police issued the driver a citation, and 20 minutes later, the immigrants were on their way up U.S. Highway 191.

    It's a scenario that plays out regularly in this southeastern Utah town of 3,000.

    As some U.S. citizens call on the government to stanch illegal immigration, the Blanding experience shows law enforcement in remote areas is unwilling - or unable - to stop the flow.

    Blanding police are not authorized to enforce federal immigration laws, and the federal authorities have stopped coming here to take custody of undocumented immigrants.

    And police encounter a lot here.

    On the evening shift, officers watching for traffic violations will sometimes stop half a dozen vans crammed with people they presume are undocumented immigrants.

    When police set up roadblocks to catch drunken drivers, they'll sometimes find dozens of such vehicles.

    Sgt. Cal Black, the only Spanish speaker on the five-person force, says they have seen the same vehicles multiple times.

    Once, Black recalled, Blanding police stopped a van on a Tuesday carrying a load of undocumented immigrants. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) took the immigrants and left the van with Blanding police. Police released the van to its owner on the following Monday. The next day, Black says, officers stopped the van again. It was carrying another load of undocumented immigrants. A passenger in the first load, Black says, had been freed from federal custody and was the driver of the second load.

    "I don't have a problem with people wanting to work," Black says, "but the amount of people coming through is frustrating when there's nothing you can do about it."

    Most immigrant traffic through Blanding occurs in the spring and fall, when farms need workers to help plant or harvest. Most of those workers, police say, are coming from the Phoenix area, where they have paid someone to transport them to a job or family in the United States. They are heading to Interstate 70, which can take them to points east and west.

    From the south, U.S. 191 doubles as Blanding's Main Street and is four lanes wide, lined with motels, a handful of stores and auto shops, a Mormon church and the city library.

    In the middle of town, the street intersects with Center Street and anyone wanting to continue north on 191 must stop and turn right onto Center, which quickly curves to the left and heads northeast out of town.

    Minivans or large sport-utility vehicles are the vehicles of choice for those who transport undocumented immigrants. The Suburban stopped Tuesday by Halliday had Arizona plates and wasn't registered to anyone in the vehicle.

    The driver and a passenger sat in the front. Five people sat on the bench seat behind them, including a boy who looked younger than 5 and was sitting on a woman's lap. Three people sat on the Suburban's next bench seat, and two people sat behind them on the floor in the vehicle's cargo space.

    One of the men in the cargo space, Jose Saucedo, 31, from the Mexican state of Michoacan, spoke some English and said he and his group were coming from Phoenix. He said he was destined for Tennessee, near Memphis, for a construction job.

    The Suburban's driver, Enrique Pacheco Aley, claimed the entire group was going to Denver. He said no one paid him to drive the immigrants.

    Blanding police say no one ever admits to being paid to drive immigrants.

    When Aley couldn't produce a driver license, Black took him into his cruiser. Black issued him a warning for turning into the wrong lane and a ticket for driving without a license. Aley gave Black $75 cash as bail on the ticket. Black had begun issuing Aley a ticket for driving without proof of insurance, but when Aley said he didn't have the $400 to post bond on that violation, Black wrote him a warning. Not having the bond money would have forced Black to take him to jail.

    Black also didn't bother writing seat belt tickets to all the van's passengers.

    With Black acting as interpreter, Aley said he "has no reason to be afraid of [police]." If he has a traffic ticket, he just pays it.

    Aley said he's a little afraid of federal law enforcement because they could return him to Mexico.

    When police were through with him, Aley returned to the driver's seat and steered the Suburban out of town.

    There was a time when undocumented immigrants found in Blanding were returned to their home countries, Halliday says. Immigration agents used to come to Blanding from their office in Durango, Colo., almost anytime police stopped a van load. If Blanding police were planning a roadblock, Halliday says, immigration agents would arrive in advance with a caravan of buses and vans.

    In 2003, in response to the terrorist attacks two years earlier, Congress created the Department of Homeland Security, which disbanded the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service and created Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.

    Federal immigration jurisdiction for Blanding moved from Durango, about two hours away, to ICE's office in Provo, four or five hours away. A short time later, ICE stopped coming, Halliday says.

    "I can't blame them. You're not going to send a van down here to get 10 or 15 people."

    Halliday says he has called the Provo office a few times, but he has never talked to a real person - just an answering machine.

    California-based ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice said ICE agents have visited Blanding "several" times this year responding to the police's request for assistance. But ICE in Provo is sometimes unavailable to respond to the town "because of the extensive distances involved," Kice said.

    "The challenge is we have a centralized operation and we need to send someone from an office with Utah jurisdiction," she said.

    When trying to determine whether to respond, Kice said, ICE will consider such factors as whether the immigrants are part of a large-scale smuggling operation or whether there is an immediate threat to the public or the immigrants.

    "Like local law enforcement, we have to prioritize our use of resources," Kice says.

    Halliday says ICE only comes to town when undocumented immigrants are stranded here. That happened in January when a van carrying 13 immigrants broke down in Blanding.

    The ALCO store in town called police when the group came inside to get warm. Blanding police called ICE in Durango, who called Provo and obtained permission to drive to Blanding, according to Halliday.

    While the police and the immigrants were waiting for ICE, another van, this time carrying nine or 10 people, arrived. They had been dispatched by the first van load's handlers to pick them up, according to Blanding police. Police took them into custody, too, and turned them over to ICE.

    The police sent a notice to the vans' registered owners, telling them they could pick up the vehicles, but no one showed. The vans, a late-model Chevy Astro and a late-model Dodge Caravan, both with Mississippi license plates, currently are in a city auction.

    Halliday says he doesn't expect ICE to come to Blanding for every van load police find, but he would like ICE to arrive when police set up a roadblock or on a night when police see an unusually high amount of immigrant traffic.

    The immigrant traffic, he says, takes officers away from other law enforcement activities they could be doing.

    But the town's cops would be even busier if ICE came to take the immigrants away because the officers would have to guard the immigrants. Blanding's police headquarters, a one-story building that used to be a home for troubled youths, has just four holding cells.

    Blanding's immigrant traffic hasn't gone unnoticed by the federal government. U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, announced last year he was trying to get an ICE office in Blanding. Hatch's spokesman, Peter Carr, said Friday that the senator was still working with Homeland Security on the proposal.

    For all the traffic they create in Blanding, the undocumented immigrants don't cause much trouble for the small police force. The immigrants are docile and cooperative when stopped, and police rarely find any drugs, Halliday says.

    Occasionally, a van's passengers will suddenly bolt out of the vehicle and run away, but they aren't gone long. There aren't many places to hide in Blanding, where unfamiliar faces stand out. Halliday said he has had runaway immigrants he was looking for flag him down and surrender after walking around town for a while.

    Some immigrant vans stop at Blanding's visitor center, where a sign outside says the restrooms are open 24 hours a day all week. The passengers often go to the restrooms in shifts, said Laverne Tate, the center's receptionist. One group goes to use the restÂrooms and when they return to the van, another group goes.

    Tate said it is "as if they don't really want us to know how many are in the van."

    Some local police agencies in other states have obtained training and certification to enforce immigration laws. Halliday, too, is interested in obtaining such powers for his force, but the department would still need ICE officers to come pick up any undocumented immigrants police detain. Keeping dozens of such people in the San Juan County jail wouldn't be practical, he says.

    "We should be doing something more than we're able to do now," Halliday says.

    But Michael Clara, spokesman for the Utah Hispanic/Latino Legislative Task Force, says immigration enforcement is best left to the feds. Immigrants need to feel comfortable calling local police for help and to report crime in their community.

    If police cracked down on undocumented immigrants, Clara says, "it would literally throw our society into chaos because you would have illegal immigrants being preyed on" by people who would threaten to call the police on them.

    At 6:50 p.m. Wednesday, Black pulled over a Ford Mustang for failing to signal. The driver had a Mexican passport and said he was returning to Idaho, where he had been working and living, from El Paso, Texas.

    Two hours ahead of him, the man volunteers to Black, was a semitrailer carrying 58 people. The driver tells Black that his boss, the operator of a rock quarry in Idaho, sent for the workers.

    "I'm sorry I missed that," Black said when he returns to his patrol vehicle. "I've never had a semitruck before."

    But police made no attempt to locate the semi.
    Support our FIGHT AGAINST illegal immigration & Amnesty by joining our E-mail Alerts at

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Dallas, TX
    sounds like that 'Black' officer just doenst give two shits.

  3. #3
    reform_now's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Charlotte, NC
    If you want to drive any way you like without fear of a traffic ticket: paint your face brown and speak a little Spanish - you're sure to get off!

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts