Blunt orders Mo. troopers to check arrestees' immigration status

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- People arrested by Missouri state troopers will undergo immigration status checks, under an order issued by Gov. Matt Blunt.

Blunt's order, issued Monday, covers the Missouri State Water Patrol and the Capitol Police, as well as the 1,100-member Missouri State Highway Patrol. It calls for the three agencies to enter an agreement with the federal government under which the state troopers will be authorized to enforce immigration laws.

In issuing the order, Blunt pointed to the Aug. 4 killings of three college students in Newark, N.J. Jose Carranza, 28, an illegal immigrant from Peru, is one of six people charged in their deaths.

Carranza was out on bail on child rape and aggravated assault charges when the killings occurred. Immigration officials were never alerted about his first arrest.

America is a nation of immigrants, Blunt said, but now is dealing with a wave of illegal immigrants who "openly flout the laws of the United States."

Any arrestee found to be in the country illegally could be taken to one of 11 federal detention centers in Missouri. Federal immigration agents would then determines what happens to the detainees, Highway Patrol officials said.

It is also possible that someone stopped by a trooper could be detained for immigration authorities even if that person would not otherwise have been arrested, the Highway Patrol said.

"If we think they're illegal, then we would be checking them," said Lt. John Hotz, a spokesman for the patrol. "There would have to be some reasonable suspicion. It can't just be, `I want to check them."'

Sen. Chris Koster, D-Harrisonville -- a former Republican who recently switched parties -- presented legislation this year to take away the business licenses of those who hire illegal immigrants. The measure failed because of Republican concerns that it would be too harsh a penalty for business owners.


Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com

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