Managing Illegal Immigration
McLaughlin created a Spanish-language computer program to help other officers communicate with Hispanics. The program has McLaughlin's voice asking questions of Spanish-speaking people. Officers can understand their responses by understanding a few key Spanish words.
"We've designed it to get 'yes' or 'no' answers," McLaughlin explained. "Even if the trooper isn't bilingual, they can still understand 'yes' or 'no' in Spanish."
The Missouri Department of Revenue is reviewing the Spanish computer program so officers can use it statewide.
McLaughlin also teaches basic Spanish to each highway patrol recruiting class.
"We do not teach people how to be fluent," he said. "We can't do that in three days, but we can teach them a command like 'silence.' If you suspect these people are plotting your death, you can just say 'silencio' and they'll be quiet, hopefully, and you'll be safe, safer."
Associate Circuit Court Judge Peggy Richardson hears cases in Moniteau County which sometimes involve Hispanics. She said they usually obey laws, although some try to drive without a license.
"We're very serious that you have to have a driver's license," Richardson said. "I don't know what it's like in Mexico, but [here] you have to have a driver's license."
And, with more Hispanics on mid-Missouri roads, language is becoming more important. Richardson said Missouri is doing an outstanding job providing courtroom interpreters.
"Obviously, we want [Hispanics] to learn English," she said. "This is America but, just as we would have trouble learning a foreign language, it's going to take them awhile to learn English."
Some Americans want to build more barriers along the U.S. border and to send illegal immigrants back to Mexico. Other Americans say immigrants improve the U.S. economy while also improving workers' lives.
However, Sedalia attorney Richard Beard is not afraid to challenge the law.
"I have a man living in my home illegally," he admitted.
Beard said a judicial entity asked him to keep a child who came to the U.S. as an illegal immigrant.
"That kid knows nothing of Mexico," he explained. "All he remembers is hanging on someone's neck, swimming in the river. He remembers the family hiding out as they came into the [United] States. To send him back or to say he's illegal would be a travesty."
Beard, a former Missouri state representative, is bilingual and he has what he called a common-sense plan about immigration.
"Do we say anybody who's here illegally is fine? To send everyone back, no, we can't afford that," he said. "As an American, I think we're better than that. We need to face the situation, and this is a work-permit issue."
Beard said the U.S. should offer a permit that requires workers to pay $3,000 to the federal government to cover paperwork and other costs. Workers could go back and forth between the U.S. and Mexico, but they could not claim U.S residency and their relatives could not visit here.
Workers would also pay Social Security taxes, but would not receive compensation when they retire.
Beard said he sent his plan to the Democratic and Republican parties, but their only response was to thank him.
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