Salt Lake City has a new nonstop flight to El Paso, Texas.
But to get on board, you have to be an illegal alien accused of a crime.For almost a month now, the Department of Justice has quietly been flying federal planes in and out of Salt Lake City each week to help with the city's mounting illegal-alien crisis.
Within two weeks, the number of aliens shipped out of Utah should more than quadruple from the present dozen to 50, said Meryl Rogers, director of Utah's INS office.
Thursday, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, announced that nine new agents from Immigration and Naturalization Services will join Utah's fight against the tide of violent aliens frightening the city. Utah's nine new agents are included in the 1,400 new agents approved by Congress. An additional 2,000 will be hired by the year 2000.
Hatch asked the Department of Justice to assign two dozen new agents to Utah. Both city and county officials praised Hatch for his work in getting the nine. "I'm thrilled," Salt Lake Mayor Deedee Corradini said. "This should help us make a major dent in the drug dealing at Pioneer Park. Eighty percent of the drug dealers have been illegal aliens."
"We thank Sen. Hatch for his diligent efforts in obtaining these new agents. Hopefully, this will be a good start toward reaching our goal of 25 new INS agents."
"Utah is experiencing a significant, growing problem with criminal illegal aliens," said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who has been pushing for the additional officers. He is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which oversees the INS.
"Until now, some in Washington have failed to realize the problem of illegal aliens is not limited to border states. We were able to convince the INS that Utah deserves more than the few personnel they had originally proposed," Hatch said.
About 75 percent of the illegal aliens flown out of Salt Lake City were arrested for drug dealing, Rogers said. The other 25 percent were arrested for violent crimes. "Child molestation and things like that," he said.
The new agents won't arrive in the city for several months. In the meantime, several agents are arriving shortly from other cities to help process the aliens faster, Rogers said. The faster Utah can process its illegal aliens, the more can be flown out each week, he said.
Most of the aliens dealing drugs here are from the Mexican state of Sinaloa, Rogers said. Federal officials noted the link several months ago, but still aren't certain why drug peddlers from that state are drawn to the city.
Corradini has been meeting with Hatch regularly this year to get more federal help for the alien problem. In February, she gave Hatch a list of personnel and equipment the local INS office needs to handle the problem. She asked for 10 special agents, five enforcement officers, two deportation officers, three detention enforcement officers, three clerks and $250,000 in increased funding for deportation and transportation. The request would cost the federal government $2 million each year. Corradini also wanted an additional $777,000 in a one-time expenditure for 20 new cars, a deportation bus that seats 50 and $100,000 to construct new detention space.
Hatch said six of the new positions will be for INS agents and three will be for detention and deportation officers.