Immigrant legislation decried by Hispanics
BY ALTHEA PETERSON World Staff Writer
Saturday, April 14, 2007
The "Oklahoma Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act of 2007" will protect neither taxpayers nor citizens, area Hispanic leaders said Friday.
The Coalition of Hispanic Organizations held a news conference to air its concerns about House Bill 1804.
Among the misconceptions about illegal immigrants are that they come to the U.S. only for welfare and don't pay taxes, said Irma Chajechi, president of the Coalition of Hispanic Organizations.
"They pay taxes on everything, even the hamburgers they buy," she said. "I usually receive praises from employers, saying that they are very hard workers."
HB 1804, which has passed the state House, would make it against the law "for any person to transport, move, or attempt to transport in the state of Oklahoma any alien knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that the alien has come to, entered, or remained in the United States in violation of law."
This has many people -- illegal immigrants and citizens alike -- worried, said the Rev. Victor Orta, president of the American Dream Coalition.
"We feel very strongly that decisions have been made based on emotion and not facts," he said.
"If we transport these people to our worship service, I can be incarcerated."
The bill also could have an adverse economic impact, said Sebastian Lantos, a board member on the Governor's Council of Latin America and Hispanic Affairs.
He said it would discourage many people from living in Oklahoma.
"Many of these (illegal immigrants) are in the process of becoming citizens," Lantos said. "The consequences (of this bill) are large and will last for generations."
Lantos said he hopes that the ultimate decision will not lie with the state Legislature.
"We hope the governor will not sign this, and we hope it will go to a vote of the people of Oklahoma," he said.
Caida Kepford, president of the Hispanic Resources Association, said she agrees.
"I refuse to believe that this (bill) is how the people of Oklahoma feel," she said.
"This law is going to be costly in human manpower and in taxes. This law is going to affect us all."
Althea Peterson 581-8361