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Border Patrol vehicle causes stir on Plaza

By Robert Plain and Alan Panebaker

A white suburban sporting Department of Homeland Security and Border Patrol decals drew the attention of several people Thursday night.

The Ashland Daily Tidings received several tips that the suburban was parked in front of Kat Work on the Plaza for more than half an hour. An employee at the Kat Wok said the rumor around town was that green cards were being checked.

While most of the restaurants on the Plaza were closed at the time the Excursion was parked there, sources coming out of Tabu and employees at numerous restaurants offered more responses of shock and confusion than recognition of the officers.

Two men stepped into the Excursion with blue letters M3011 on the back shortly before midnight. The officials had not arrested anyone, and they drove away from the Plaza before being questioned about the reason for their presence.

Late Thursday night, Ashland Police Sgt. Teresa Selby confirmed an earlier report from an APD dispatcher saying the APD had no official knowledge of either Homeland Security or immigration officials presence on the Plaza.

&

Ordinarily we&

d know about something like this,&

Selby said.

Jason Doss, a co-owner of Chateaulin, said he was unaware of anything immigration-related happening on the Plaza.

&

We didn&

t see or hear anything,&

Doss said.

Doss was not the only one left in the dark Thursday night. Officials from the Transportation and Security Administration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Jackson County sheriff Mike Winters all had no idea as to the reason for Border Patrol&

s presence.

&

I personally find it hard to believe,&

Winters said. &

It doesn&

t sound normal to me.&

The irony of the rumor mill, however, was that the officials in the Excursion may have just been out to dinner Thursday night.

While the SUV may have raised a few eyebrows, the only people with real fear may have been students at Southern Oregon University facing the harsh reality that they may have to obtain real jobs upon graduation.

Peter Weston, director of Career Development Services at SOU, said two recruiting officers were in Ashland for Career Services Day along with 74 other employers. They were not here for any other known business.

Andrew Scot Bolsinger contributed to this report.