Immigration Raid Reaches the Tennessee Valley
A state-wide immigration raid hits the Tennessee Valley.
The feds have already busted one driving school near Nashville for giving out fake driver's licenses to immigrants.
Wednesday, another driving school in East Ridge, Tennessee came under fire.
Entrenamiento de Manejo Winchester Driving School off Mack Smith Road in East Ridge shut down early Wednesday after the
Tennessee Highway Patrol made a surprise visit.
It comes one day after a similar raid in Murfreesboro.
Federal and State agents arrested six people in Murfreesboro at the drivers license station and the Winchester driving school next door.
It's the result of an 18-month joint federal and state investigation called Operation Crooked Highway.
“Our government service is not for sale. Our law enforcement is not for sale, and we know today that our drivers licenses aren't for sale,” said Jim Vines, U.S. attorney.
Tuesday, Officers in Murfreesboro led Bruce Conklin away in handcuffs. He and Teresa Jones are former workers at the drivers license station. They're charged with accepting thousands of dollars in bribes in exchange for providing driver licenses and drivers certificates to those who would otherwise be ineligible.
The owner of Winchester Driving School, Bryan Guess, is accused of bribing one of the examiners in exchange for drivers license or improper driving certificates for the school.
Two others are charged with selling improper driving certificates, and sixth person is charged with transporting illegal aliens to obtain the improper driving documents.
State agents held about ten people for questioning at the East Ridge driving school Wednesday evening.
There is no word on whether there will be charges brought against any of those people.
Sen. Ketron Renews Call To Tighten Up On Driver’s Licenses
State Republican Press Secretary
January 25, 2006
NASHVILLE—Sen. Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) renewed his call Wednesday for the state to tighten up on the requirements for issuing state driver’s licenses. His call for action followed the announcement that six people have been indicted in the joint federal-state investigation Operation Crooked Highway. Three others have previously been prosecuted in the case which involves the illegal purchase of driver’s licenses.
He once again urged Gov. Bredesen to get on board and support tougher laws to try and prevent yet another embarrassing repeat of Department of Safety employees illegally selling driver’s licenses to illegal aliens.
Sen. Ketron has Senate Bill 1050 ( http://www.legislature.state.tn.us/ ) in the Senate Transportation Committee from last year’s action and the bill can quickly move forward to help start solving the problem. That bill requires an applicant for a driver’s license to provide a valid Social Security number or INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) documentation. (INS has been renamed the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services or BCIS, but many still refer to it as INS.)
Under current law an applicant who does not have or was never issued a Social Security Number may still receive a license if such applicant completes an affidavit, under penalty of perjury, affirming that the applicant has never been issued a Social Security Number.
Sen. Ketron has been working since 2002 to tighten up on the state’s lax licensing laws and has encouraged the governor’s administration to make some changes to the law. After a 2003 change in the law, he urged the governor in a Sep. 12, 2003, letter to remove his opposition to then Senate Bill 1188 from the 103rd General Assembly. That bill is almost identical to his current bill. But the administration dug in then on the issue and the problem continues today.
In that letter to the governor, Sen. Ketron wrote: "The purpose of this bill is to require a legal presence in the US and the state of Tennessee by requiring a social security card or INS documents. The events of 9/11 have added increased urgency to the enactment of this legislation. We cannot afford to make Tennessee a magnet for those who would obtain official identification in an effort to harm United States citizens."
Sen. Jim Tracy co-sponsors SB 1050 in the Senate with Sen. Ketron. Sponsors of House Bill 2132, the companion bill, include Reps. Donna Rowland, Glen Casada, Harry Brooks, Paul Stanley, Debra Maggart, Phillip Johnson, Curry Todd, William Baird, Jerome Cochran, Susan Lynn, and Beth Harwell.
Sen. Ketron represents the 13th Senatorial District which includes all of Lincoln, Marshall, and Maury counties, as well as part of Rutherford County.