Sheriff Vic Regalado on immigration and public engagement
On November 13, Regalado participated in a symposium on immigration solutions at Edison High School, after which he discussed with La Semana his department’s ongoing challenges and his thoughts on border security and immigration enforcement under the Trump administration.
Regalado said he was impressed by the questions the students asked and was glad to have the opportunity to participate in a civil discussion about a topic around which emotions often run high and tempers hot.
“You could tell the students spent some looking into it and fact finding, and most impressive was their critical thinking,” the sheriff said. “It was really a wonderful program and I wish a lot of schools would do that.”
Regalado said one student asked him about reports on social media that TCSO officers ask people they encounter in the field about their immigration status, a claim the sheriff insists is “a total falsehood.”
“Outside of the jail, one, we have no immigration powers, and two, it’s not good law enforcement to do that because it’s such a slippery slope that can lead into bad things like racial profiling,” the sheriff said, urging anyone who experiences this to contact his office immediately.
Regalado acknowledged ongoing criticism that the 287(g) program could ensnare some individuals guilty of only minor offenses, especially those brought in by ICE over which he says he has no control. He noted that the immigration enforcement priorities under the Trump administration have changed, and that where formerly only those charged with serious crimes were targeted for arrest and deportation, today any undocumented person ICE encounters in the course of looking for criminals is also likely to be detained.
“I’d like to see us get away from that,” Regalado said. “I’d like to see us go back to a priority list because I think it’s a waste of resources right now.”
The sheriff said he is continuing to make his office more accessible to the public, and one way he and his officers are doing that is by participating in as many community events as possible.
“Having taken office, we’ve made it a point to engage every community,” Regalado said. “We were somewhat closed off here, in my opinion.”
Regalado said in the beginning he was often instructing his deputies as to which events they should have a presence at, but that now his officers are bringing suggestions to him.
“That’s when I knew we’d turned a corner,” he said.
The sheriff also pointed to the citizens review board he created as another way his administration has sought to be more transparent than that of his predecessor.
The sheriff said he wants members of the public, regardless of their immigration status, to know that they can call his office to report any crime they witness or are the victim of, especially domestic violence. He said Tulsa’s Hispanic community is by large peaceful and law abiding, and he does not include a number of accused heroin dealers arrested here as being part of this community, but rather are “cartel employees just working here as criminals.”
With the holiday shopping season already upon us, Regalado warned the public to be aware of their surroundings and not leave gifts visible in their cars.
“Be safe, and Feliz Navidad,” the sheriff urged. (La Semana)