Feb. 2, 2005 Police on St. John have arrested two men believed to be illegal immigrants. The pair was arrested Tuesday night at the same time two women — also believed to be illegal immigrants — were hurt while jumping off a moving pickup truck.
Sgt. Thomas Hannah, V.I. Police Department spokesman, said Wednesday the women, and the two men, were among several people who jumped out as the truck was being approached by a patrol car.
The women were taken to the Roy L. Schneider Hospital where one remains with multiple injuries, according to hospital spokesman Amos Carty.
The other woman was treated and released on Wednesday, Carty said.
Authorities said it was unclear whether she was then taken into custody by federal immigration officials, but Hannah said most likely she was. The two men, arrested Tuesday on Centerline Road near Coral Bay, were turned over to officials from the agency for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Hannah said.
Officials with the St. John police and Julien Harley, St. John island administrator, believe up to 80 immigrants may have entered the territory Tuesday, but an official at ICE said that could not be confirmed.
Hannah said a call had come in Tuesday saying that between 60 and 80 illegal immigrants were coming to St. John. "We can't verify that number because by the time officers got out to that area, of course those individuals would have dispersed throughout the island," he said, adding, "This would have been in the Coral Bay area."
He said a police car was sent to the area, after the call came in, and while traveling to Coral Bay police spotted a pickup truck with a number of people riding in the truck bed. When they saw the patrol car, Hannah said, they jumped out of the truck.
Harley said that on Wednesday morning he was getting reports from residents who saw a large group of about 40 people walking along a road in the Gifft Hill area near the Public Works Department.
Later that day, Harley said he paid a visit to the island's East End, where he met a man who told him he had sighted immigrants landing in the area.
Harley said the situation is getting out of hand.
"This government has got to do something. These people are coming in, in droves," he said. "I went to Hansen Bay, I went to East End today and I drove all around. I ended up in Privateer Bay down in the concrete road and I met this guy. He told me plain out, he saw a white catamaran come in and drop off people in the middle of the day. It's getting to be too much now. What are we doing?" he asked.
Both Hannah and Harley said the local government is facing a growing problem with illegal immigration on St. John. The police spokesman encouraged residents to continue calling in sightings in hopes that authorities will collect enough documentation to justify a plea for more help from the federal government.
"We really appreciate the assistance that has been given to us by the residents in informing us that these individuals have been seen in a particular area and we want them to continue to do so," Hannah said.
But he was clear Wednesday night that reporting sightings isn't enough. "We really need federal help."
Talks were held with immigration and other federal officials late last year and Harley joined St. John Deputy Police Chief Angelo Hill and St. John National Park Chief Ranger Steve Clark in asking for more help.
But Harley said Wednesday that help has never appeared. "I personally have never heard any follow up since that meeting."
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