TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – Northern lower Michigan State Rep. John Roth (R-Interlochen) is calling for stricter laws to protect Michigan residents from the ongoing crisis at the US-Mexico border. Oddly enough, he co-sponsored legislation about individuals in the state unlawfluly, House Bills 5465 and 5466, the day before 19 illegal immigrants were detained after being found on a black painted bus owned by Dutchman Tree Farms in Grand Traverse County.

Roth’s legislation would make it a felony to be in the state as an illegal immigrant. The measures are similar to legislative steps taken by the state of Texas. The legislation includes a paragraph that says, “An individual who is present in this state who is not lawfully present in the United States is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 5 years, a fine of not more than $50,000.00, or both.”

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The bills have been referred to the House Government Operations Committee.

Every town is a border town now.

Roth said about the bus incident, “Grand Traverse County is 1,667 miles and over a 25-hour drive from the US-Mexico border, yet the situation down there is so out of control that our local police are having to deal with busloads of illegal immigrants in our community.”

Roth went on to say, “The migrants were only apprehended because the bus driver was swerving erratically all over the road. Law enforcement conducted a regular traffic stop and discovered the whole mess. Honestly, the driver could’ve killed someone if a deputy hadn’t been there. We are truly blessed with quality local police that handle all situations, even extremely unordinary ones, with poise and effectiveness.”

Roth continued in his statement, “We don’t know where these people came from, but we do know they didn’t use the legal process to get here. Local officials told me that this isn’t some isolated incident. This isn’t the first time our local law enforcement has dealt with these situations. It’s scary to think of all the times these buses don’t get pulled over and just keep driving to wherever they’re headed.”

Roth concluded, “This is a trend that must stop. It isn’t safe for the people being trafficked across the border or the people already living in our country. Right now, it seems like Traverse City cops are better equipped to handle the illegal immigration crisis than the federal government.”

Documents received that explain traffic stop.

Michigan News Source was recently able to get documents relating to the traffic stop of the Dutchman bus in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request submitted to Grand Traverse County. We are now able to shed more light on what transpired when the bus was pulled over. You can read our initial story on the incident here with links to all subsequent articles.

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In the documents we received, the driver is identified as an employee of Dutchman Tree Farms in Manton and the ticket offense form reaffirms that the tree farm is the owner of the vehicle. The offense form says “The bus was observed to be weaving. The vehicle had crossed the fog line multiple times.”

The driver did not have a drivers license to present to the Grand Traverse deputies. Instead, it is noted that he provided deputies with a consular card and a Mexican Voter ID card as well as proof of insurance. A consular card is ID for Mexicans living abroad. It does not grant the bearer any immigration status in the United States.

Driver cited after not producing a license to operate vehicle.

Because there was a language barrier between the deputies and the driver, and because the cards presented were in Spanish, contact was made with border patrol for language translation assistance. The offense form went on to say, “In addition, the vehicle operated by (driver) was a commercial vehicle. To ensure (driver) obtained the proper class of license to operate this vehicle, Michigan State Police Motor Carrier was also called to the scene.”

The report continued, “(Driver) provided a digital CDL/License, LE (law enforcement) was unable to verify the validity of this digital image. Through investigation LE was unable to confirm if (driver) was in possession of a valid motor vehicle license or was licensed to operate a motor vehicle of this class. (Driver) was cited for “No Ops Never Applied” and issued a citation.”

No Ops according to the law firm Grabel & Associates, means “failure to display a valid license” or “no operator’s license on person”

Local deputies did not ask for documents from bus passengers.

The Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s Office did not document passenger information or collect passenger information according to the FOIA documents. While the deputies were on scene, the Department of Homeland Security and Border Patrol arrived and subsequently the GT County personnel cleared the scene.

Through a statement from Youssef Fawaz from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Public Affairs in Detroit, it was learned that the bus occupants were transported to the Sault Ste. Marie Border Patrol Station where they were processed and served a Notice To Appear before being released.