Saturday, June 4, 2016

Sheriff of northeastern Oregon county writes letter in 2006 to then Mexican Pres. Vicente Fox, telling him the county can no longer afford normal police services due to budget shifts arising from crimes committed by illegal immigrants from Mexico. Sheriff asks Vicente Fox to please reimburse county taxpayers for a small portion of expenses-LA Times, May 2006

May 2006 article: Sheriff of a northeastern Oregon county writes a letter to then Mexico Pres. Vicente Fox asking him to please reimburse taxpayers of the county for just a small fraction ($300,000) of the expenses they were forced to pay for one year (in the millions) arising from crimes committed by illegal immigrants from Mexico. For example, county taxpayers are being forced to pay $2.2 million just for one 2004 case involving two criminals. One Mexican man arrested for burglary has been in county jail 20 times.

May 12, 2006, "Mr. (Vicente) Fox, Cough Up $300,000," LA Times, Tomas Alex Tizon, staff writer

"John Trumbo, a sheriff in northeastern Oregon, sends Mexico's president (then Vicente Fox) a letter asking for funds to help pay for jailed illegal immigrants."

"Out of ideas and low on cash one cold morning, the man with the biggest badge in town put his meaty fingers on a keyboard and tapped out a letter to the leader of Mexico.

"Dear Precidente [sic] Fox," it began.

"My name is John Trumbo.

Between 1990 and 2000, Umatilla County's Latino population, including legal and illegal immigrants, jumped 114% to 11,400 people, according to the Census Bureau. This doesn't include thousands of seasonal workers who live here part of the year and many others who choose not to be counted.

About 70,000 people live in the county.

In towns such as Hermiston, Umatilla and Milton-Freewater, Latinos occupy entire neighborhoods, and the beginnings of "Little Mexico" commercial areas have taken hold. The neighborhoods tend to be poorer, and many residents blame Latino immigrants for the region's gang and drug problems.

Public schools have become increasingly populated by Latinos. In Milton-Freewater and Umatilla, with a combined enrollment of about 3,300, Latinos make up half of the student body. No one knows how many are children of illegal immigrants because federal law prohibits schools from asking about parents' immigration status.

Undocumented residents also have access to state and county services for drug and alcohol treatment, mental health, domestic violence and nutrition. While there's grousing about taxpayer money being used for these services, nothing ignites more anger than illegal residents who end up in the criminal justice system.

"They already broke the law once coming over here," says Pendleton resident Elaina Solomon, 49, an emigre from Honduras who works as a legal assistant. "Then they commit murders and robberies while they're here. Why should we pay for their room and board at the jail? Why should we foot the bill?"

Trumbo's letter to Fox resonated with Solomon and many other county residents even as some in the Latino community privately grumbled.

To anyone who asked, Trumbo explained:

The county has a daily jail capacity of 252 inmates but can afford staff and services for only 135. The sheriff's office should have a minimum of 27 patrol officers but can fund only nine.  

Between 2 a.m. and 8 a.m. each day, no patrol officer is on duty.

"When people call the police, they expect to see the police," Trumbo says. "They see it on TV all the time. But there are times when I can't send anybody because I don't have anybody because I don't have the money."

One reason, he says, is because the department spends so much of its $6.5-million annual budget on apprehending and jailing illegal immigrants. He understands that the immigration debate is complex and he hopes the people in Washington, D.C., are working to solve the problem soon.

He has no problem with Latinos personally, he says. "Some of my best friends," Trumbo says, "are Hispanic." He just wanted to tell someone, anyone, about the situation here. Sometimes a sheriff in rural eastern Oregon can feel like his words dissolve in the wind, like a coyote's howl.

Is anyone out there listening? President Bush? Presidente Fox?
Umatilla County covers 3,228 square miles of watermelon farms, asparagus and alfalfa fields and gently rounded hills that continue north into Washington and Idaho.

In the northern outskirts of Pendleton, the county seat, the area's top lawman answers his phone like a bark: "Trumbo."...

He speaks his mind largely without editing: "The reason why Hispanics come here is because white people are too damn lazy to bend down and do real work. It's a fact."

A native Oregonian (born in Albany), Trumbo has been in law enforcement for three decades, the Umatilla sheriff since 1997. He and his wife, Carol, a schoolteacher, have two grown sons. When the sons visit, Trumbo requires them to remove their earrings before entering the house.

"A matter of decorum," he says. Trumbo has seen the changes on both sides of the Cascades.

In the last 16 years, the Latino population in 20 of Oregon's 36 counties has as much as tripled. The Pew Hispanic Center estimates the number of illegal immigrants in the state has jumped to as many as 175,000, compared with 25,000 in 1990.
Many of them end up in places like Umatilla County, where they take the hardest farming jobs -- such as picking asparagus or pitching watermelon -- or work on assembly lines in food-processing factories.

The population increase has led to a corresponding rise of undocumented immigrants who commit crimes. Trumbo says between nine and 15 jail beds are occupied each day by illegal immigrants from Mexico.
Among those in jail is Ever Alexis-Flores, 25, convicted in a 2004 murder-robbery near Hermiston. Alexis-Flores and four men broke into a remote house where as many as 12 farmworkers lay sleeping. The robbers, who knew the workers had been paid the previous night, took cash and cellphones and killed one worker and wounded his 16-year-old son.

The majority of jailed illegal immigrants, though, are in for property crimes. One man arrested for burglary, Juan Flores-Romero, has been in the Umatilla County jail 20 times. Flores-Romero, 62, was deported in almost every instance.

Says Trumbo: "The old joke among the immigration agents who shuttled these guys back to Mexico was, 'I hope we make it back to Pendleton before they do.'"

It is a national problem. One Justice Department report estimates that 270,000 illegal immigrants serve jail time every year, most in California, Arizona, Florida, Texas and New York. It costs the United States more than $1 billion a year, according to the Government Accountability Office.

In Trumbo's letter to Fox, the sheriff asked to be reimbursed for the basics, such as food, clothing and shelter. Not included were costs related to medical and dental services, transportation, legal defense and prosecution, all of which total millions of dollars each year just for Umatilla County.

"Of course, [Trumbo] didn't consult with us before he wrote the letter," says Umatilla County Commissioner Emile Holeman. "But if he consulted me, I would have said, 'Gosh, you should mail that.'"

Others found the sheriff's letter disturbing. Shelley Latin, an attorney who represents mostly low-income Latinos, says Trumbo's letter hinted at a type of racism pervasive within local law enforcement."...

[Ed. note: Sorry, the sheriff has already demonstrated anti-white racism, see above. Says Hispanic people come here because "white people are too damn lazy" to do real work.]

(continuing): ""The implication is that Hispanics are the cause of the crime problems here," Latin says. "It suggests that if Hispanics were all taken away, we would suddenly be crime-free. That's just silly."

The Mexican consul general for Oregon, Fernando Sanchez Ugarte, who received a copy of the letter, says he doesn't know whether Fox will respond. Ugarte says he personally dismissed the letter as political posturing, not to mention racist.

The sheriff, he says, "is pinpointing one ethnic group," and he's not sending letters to the presidents of all the other countries in the world.

"If a visitor from Switzerland does something wrong while visiting Umatilla County," Ugarte says, "will Mr. Trumbo send a bill to the leader of Switzerland? I don't think so."
At Magana's Barbershop in Hermiston, 28 miles away, Trumbo's letter was received with more venom. "It was a slap in the face," says owner and operator Martin Magana.

On this day, a half-dozen young Latino men await haircuts. It is a one-room shop, small and intimate, with lad mags laid out in thick piles on a table. A poster of Bruce Lee adorns the wall above the mirrors.

"Yeah, [Trumbo] was trying to be the hero to the Anglos," says Magana, 30, as he runs an electric shear over the center of a customer's head. The men in the room are all friends with one essential trait in common: At one point in their family lineage, someone immigrated to this region illegally.

"That's the thing," says Saul Olvera, 23, "we're all one family, one community. We're all legal in here [a few of the men snicker], but a lot of our relatives are still illegal."...

Back at the Justice Center in Pendleton, Trumbo has made a copy of his latest letter. This one is to the local newspaper. In it, he recounts the 2004 murder-robbery near Hermiston. Without naming them, he writes that two of the convicted men, sentenced to 25 and 50 years, will end up costing Oregon taxpayers at least $2.2. million.

"Somebody's got to say, 'Enough is enough,' " he says.

As for Fox, the sheriff doubts he'll ever hear from him. In fact, Trumbo is beginning to think Fox doesn't care. But for anyone who asks why his jail isn't filled to capacity or why no officer will respond to a call after 2 a.m., he has an answer requiring no speech. He rifles through a drawer looking for "the list."

It is 15 pages long, single-spaced in fine print, naming every illegal immigrant who took up space in his jail last year. The inmates are listed each night they're in custody. Trumbo holds the list in front of him and doesn't say a word. In his mind, he doesn't have to: Just the sound of all those shuffling pages makes his case."


No comments: