Posted on March 25, 2005

Immigrants Frustrating Marshalltown Cops

WHO TV (Des Moines), Mar. 25

Marshalltown—On Wednesday we told you about an immigrant smuggling bust in Colfax. Police found fourteen suspected illegal immigrants packed in a van and turned them over to immigration officials. Colfax police say so far this year they’ve brought in more than sixty illegal immigrants but they had to release about twenty of them because federal officials wouldn’t take them into custody.

The story prompted this response from Marshalltown Police Chief Lon Walker . . . “I saw your story about illegal immigrants. In Marshalltown, we deal with them daily! I’ve asked immigration and custom enforcement for help but get none.” So just how severe is the immigrant problem in Marshalltown? Channel 13’s Dave Price met up with Chief Walker for a first hand look . . .

“I’m often asked why can’t you do something about that,” says Walker. For him, it’s frustrating to drive the city streets he’s protected the last ten years. He says illegal immigrants that used to pass by his town on I-80 now come to town. Walker says, “I think with the Interstate, you’re seeing people that have a destination and that destination may be Marshalltown.”

Walker says his town of about 26,000 may be home to hundreds, maybe even more than a thousand illegal immigrants. He says finding them gets harder and harder because the illegals mix in with the city’s growing Latino population. Many he says come from Mexico and he thinks they’re bringing with them the methamphetamines and marijuana that are now plaguing his town.

The Chief says, “My hands are tied and I can’t do anything about immigration without their assistance.” Walker says if federal agents would come to town, they’d probably find hundreds of illegals working at the Swift and Company Pork Processing Plant. He says they’ve been working there for years. But walker says he can’t get the feds to come. So he’s left sitting there, with lawbreakers all around him, the city’s top cop, unable to enforce the law.

Walker says, “It’s frustrating when we can’t generate any support from the federal level and when we can document we have a problem.”

Swift and Company, which is based in Worthington, Minnesota wouldn’t comment on the allegations and told us to call back. Congressman Tom Latham has promised Chief Walker he’ll work with federal officials to help with the illegal immigrant problem.