Immigration law is likely to face legal challenge
BY LEIGH BELL World Staff Writer
Friday, May 11, 2007
Legal action likely will be taken against a bill the governor signed into law this week to address illegal immigration, leaders from the Hispanic community said Thursday.
"We're going to challenge it in court," said the Rev. Victor Orta, president of the American Dream Coalition. "There are a lot of things in question regarding human rights."
It's uncertain what part of the law will be challenged, he said.
Several organizations met Thursday to discuss legal strategies after House Bill 1804 became law to prevent illegal immigrants from getting jobs and public assistance.
It also requires law enforcement agents to police illegal immigrants who are arrested for particular crimes.
Possible litigation over the law is being investigated by the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma.
"We are very concerned about this legislation, and we have done the best we can to try and stop it," said Chuck Thornton, the ACLU's legal director. "No hard-and-fast decisions have been made, but we are very concerned about the risk to civil liberties."
Meanwhile, organizations began reaching out to the local immigrant community to quell the fear the law has evoked, especially among those who are here illegally.
The Spanish-language publication Hispano de Tulsa has started an immigration section to keep its readers informed about what has happened, said its director, Margarita Vega-Trevino.
"People are most concerned -- and that includes me as a family and a business owner -- about the violation of human rights," she said.
Groups that serve the Hispanic community have begun an information campaign to educate the immigrant population on how HB 1804 will affect them.
"The first mission is to explain 1804 in simple language to our community," Juanita Vasquez Sykes of the League of United Latin American Citizens of Oklahoma said in an e-mail to the Tulsa World.
"They deserve at least that much. We need to calm any fear and especially any misinformation that is spreading around."
The hope is to have pamphlets printed in English and Spanish written by immigration attorneys to explain what people should do if they are detained or arrested, she said. A toll-free telephone number and Web site are planned to report possible civil-rights violations.
"Community Conversations" should be held in Tulsa and Oklahoma City to discuss the bill, Sykes said. Dates will be announced.
Leigh Bell 581-8465