First local arrest made based on new immigration law

Published 5:35 pm Friday, October 7, 2011

Chilton County law enforcement has made its first arrest based on the state’s controversial new illegal immigration law.

A Jemison man was deemed to be in the United States illegally and arrested Friday, while a Jemison police officer was acquiring basic information following a minor car wreck in the parking lot of a fuel station just off Interstate 65 Exit 219.

Ruben Gonzalez Ruiz, 44, of Jemison reportedly presented Officer Tera Mayfield with a Mexican passport stamped with a date of 1991.

Alabama’s new immigration bill requires officers unable to determine whether a person is a legal citizen to check that person’s status with the federal agency Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.

Eight minutes after a query was sent to ICE through the National Crime Information Center service, Jemison Police received a reply that Ruiz did not have a valid passport and was “subject to removal proceedings,” JPD Chief Shane Fulmer said.

“So he was arrested for violation of immigration law and transported to Chilton County Jail, where he will be held upon adjudication by the Jemison Municipal Court and turned over to Immigration,” Fulmer said.

Though many have spoken out against the new law—including law enforcement officials concerned about the added workload and costs associated with housing more people in the county jail—Fulmer said he must enforce it.

“I sent three officers to immigration law training Wednesday, and [state officials] made it perfectly clear that there is no option,” Fulmer said. “There is no officer discretion when it comes to applying this law and enforcing this law.

“If I’m put in a situation where a law has been broken and I’m supposed to enforce the law, that’s exactly what we’re going to do, regardless of the situation. We’re going to enforce the law.”