CUSTER COUNTY— Custer County Supervisor Doug Stunkel made some questionable remarks regarding illegal immigration during the Custer County Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, August 13. Stunkel, who is Custer County’s District 7 representative, asked that illegal immigration be a topic on the agenda because he felt that the county should have a policy stating that they would not allow illegal immigration.
“I would like it established that we are not with our arms open saying come on in. I would make a motion to stop illegal immigration in Custer County,” said Stunkel.
A summary definition from Cornell Law School states that illegal immigration is a person or persons that attempt to enter the United States at any place other than by designated immigration officers, to elude examination or inspection, or to enter the U.S. by willfully false or misleading representation or concealing of material fact.
Supervisor Don Olsen asked Custer County Attorney Steve Bowers if any other counties have done something similar to what Stunkel was suggesting. While no direct answer was given Bowers did explain the policy that the county currently takes when encountering situations with illegal immigrants.
“The way we usually handle it is if there is a crime that has been committed, we can prosecute them for that crime and then we inform ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] and then ICE comes and takes care of them. They are then placed in Omaha and if they get to the deportation stage then they go to Minneapolis and then they are sent back to their country of origin,” said Bowers
Bowers believed the concern stemmed from situations like the raid that took place in O’Neill. He also noted that he would need to do research into the subject that if a mass raid were to take place, if the county was liable or would face repercussions. Bowers also explained that Custer County did not have the funds or the man-power to do anything as well as immigration being a federal issue.
As Stunkel had made a formal motion to have a policy be written up regarding illegal immigration, conversation was halted until a second was brought forward. Supervisor Matt Eggleston did second the motion for conversation purposes only.
With conversation continuing on the issue Eggleston asked Stunkel to clarify what he was wanting and if he wanted to change a policy, statute, or regulation. Stunkel stated that he did not necessarily want a mandate, but wanted something on the books that stated that Custer County would not welcome illegal immigrants. He also referenced Lexington as a town that had multiple illegal immigrants.
Chairmen of the Board Barry Fox asked Stunkel how he could tell by just driving around Lexington that the people he saw were illegals.
Stunkel responded, “I guess I would like to bet that you could go down there to Lexington and them people with them towels over their head.”
Fox quickly responded saying that Stunkel would probably be surprised with the number of people that were legal. It was also pointed out that a lot of the people that Stunkel was referencing were allowed in by the government as refugees.
Fox also noted that he was concerned with the language on the profiling of possible illegals stating, “If you are a U.S. citizen you have the right to not be [asked if you are a citizen] because of how you look.”
Stunkel responded, “Well do you?”
Fox in turn asked, “Do you think someone has the right to come to your door and say because of the way you look I don’t think you’re legal?”
Stunkel concluded his argument saying that, “Well then we have no possibility of getting it under control.”
The issue was postponed until Custer County Attorney Steve Bowers would have enough time to do research into the issue.
Other agenda items that were voted on were the approval of the interlocal agreements for Broken Bow Airport and Sargent Airport. An update brought to the board also had positive news that Broken Bow Airport would have a new runway due to an FFA stimulus grant that will pay for 100% of the cost for the replacement.
The Custer County Ag Society was also approved for a special designated liquor license for the Mid-States Rodeo Finals which will take place from September 12-15. The Ag Society also made their budget request at two and a half percent plus one and a half percent which they will use for payroll, insurance, putting on the fair, and other needed areas.
Township loans were another issue that was discussed by the board, where townships were initially not going to go over budget and now were most likely going to go over. The board had decided previously that they would allocate loans to those townships for the March flooding.
Due to recent storms however, townships are asking for additional loans. The board indicated that they would have no issue in allocating those loans, but did want a way for the loans to be separate to distinguish between recent flooding and the March flooding.