In their own words: Eric Blustby Elizabeth Baier, Minnesota Public Radio
Austin Police Officer Eric Blust talked about police work and undocumented residents during a ride-along with MPR reporter Elizabeth Baier.
OFFICER ERIC BLUST:
A lot of times, if you can talk to somebody in a decent manner and build that rapport, they'll tell you, 'Hey, I got this fraudulent document from so-and-so for so many dollars, and this and this and that.' And then that trickles into some other pathways.
The most that we see, on a patrol end, would be somebody carrying a false ID for driving or having multiple IDs on their, when we had stopped them for a traffic stop and then trying to figure out the circumstances there. And typically, that person is going to end up saying, 'OK, I'm here illegally. I got these documents so I can work and have a sense of having a driver's license, so to speak.'
Ernesto, the Community Service Officer, that's where he comes into play a lot, too. To where he's going to be able to talk to some of these folks of the Hispanic culture anyway, and be able to bring that out of somebody.
Typically, a person will get arrested for falsifying information. Depending on the circumstances, the immigration control would be called up and see if they want to get their hands into it or not. A lot of times, It's kind of been a mixed feeling here lately, to where they want some of these illegals arrested, but at the same time, when you arrest them and you contact immigration authorities, they don't want to pursue or go any further with it. So, it's kind of a mixed signal in that realm.
And there's times when they'll take that person and they'll take custody of them and ship 'em back to wherever they're from. But then there's times when they don't. And where do they come to that conclusion, it's kind of mind-boggling, I guess, to me. Because it'd be nice to know what they're looking for, so you have an idea of how to pursue what you're dealing with on the street.
Is it right that somebody is here illegally? I don't know. But is it right how we're enforcing that, too?
Some people come here because hey, this is their last straw, and they want to make a better life for themselves. And again, I guess, is it right that somebody's here illegally? Probably not. But if they're trying to make a better life for themselves and doing it in somewhat of an appropriate process, how do you, I don't know, how do you really come down on somebody like that and then having a company that's hiring folks in, and a lower rate, versus somebody else that they can get by with. That kind of bugs me a little bit.
I don't know. They could investigate maybe a little bit further, dig down more into some backgrounds and try to come up with. I mean, if something is questionable, or something sounds fishy, typically, something's not right there.
If somebody comes in and has all their ducks in a row, more than likely all the ducks, it's going to be official. To where you do some digging and things don't start really adding up, which, I mean, we do that. We do background checks when we come across somebody that has different documents and things of that nature.
Our investigations come up with a person admitting, hey, that they're here illegally. And I don't know if that's because it's coming from a law enforcement standpoint and the person is just scared and wants to be done with it. Versus somebody coming in trying to get employment and the company just not picking up on certain criteria.
I mean, I'm sure they have the same resources that we would have. Wouldn't think it would be that difficult of a thing to really pursue and investigate.
And that goes back, that's kind of that headache to where it's just things are being constructed as what it should be. There should be a process. Just like when we deal with somebody on the road, arrest them and then, ICE immigration doesn't do anything. But your next stop, same similar circumstances, bring them in, and they want them.
If there was some sort of solid process to go off of, it would be a little bit better controlled and then maybe there wouldn't be this huge dilemma, or issue.
Baier: How big of a problem is this for Austin? How would you describe it?
I would say challenging for sure. Well, for example, at the fairgrounds, our fairgrounds, they'll rent out a couple of their buildings, or they have in the past to whoever would want to rent them out. But typically, you'll see Hispanic families renting those places out more or less for that 15 year old birthday thing, and a lot of family members get together.
They play live music and the music is loud and so, they neighboring homes around that area, will call and complain because one, yeah, I it's loud. And two, because it's a different type of music to where, 'Ah, I don't want to be hearing that crap' type of thing.
And I can understand somebody's frustration if there's loud music, per say. But I think there's a lot of people that'll call in a complain because of the culture-based music. And I think that's just that whole idea of change. And trying to mix in and I don't know what the solution is.