Tulsa Hispanic leaders warn of increased immigration reform
BY RANDY KREHBIEL World Staff Writer
Thursday, May 06, 2010
5/06/10 at 5:01 PM
Tulsa’s Hispanic Chamber of Commerce warned Thursday that attempts to introduce legislation in Oklahoma similar to new Arizona laws would be an “economic catastrophe.”
Hispanic Chamber of Commerce officials were joined by David Bernstein of the Tulsa Jewish Federation, Bishop Edward J. Slattery of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tulsa, Chuck Thornton of the American Civil Liberties Union and Marvin Lizama of the Coalition for the American Dream in denouncing the Arizona laws and the efforts of Oklahoma legislators to introduce even more comprehensive measures.
“We have irresponsible officials contemplating copycat legislation,” said the Hispanic Chamber’s Ed Martinez. “We have an undocumented (worker) problem, but the cost of it is small compared to the cost of this bill.”
The group contends that House Bill 1804, a 2007 immigration law, has cost the state $1.8 billion in lost economic activity.
State Rep. Randy Terrill, the principle author of HB 1804 and leader of the legislators seeking additional immigration measures, disputes the figure.
“There is no direct correlation they can point to,” he said.
House Speaker Chris Benge, R-Tulsa, said Thursday that he isn’t interested in taking up immigration this session, but Terrill said he, Rep. Rex Duncan, R-Sand Springs; Rep. Mike Christian, R-Oklahoma City; and Sen. Anthony Sykes, R-Moore; are still trying to introduce a version of the Arizona law along with what he called three “plus” features.
“The measure we passed a few years ago is still working through the legal challenges,” Benge said. “I think we need to see how that comes out at the end of the day before we would address any more immigration issues.”
The new Arizona statutes broaden law officers’ authority to detain suspected illegal immigrants. The “plus” features contemplated by Terrill and the others involve possession of firearms, seizure and forfeiture of property involved in illegal immigration, and expansion of state racketeering laws to include activities associated with illegal immigration.
Opponents of the Arizona law say it is tantamount to racial profiling. They say the probable cause threshold is so low it would allow people to be arrested for “breathing while brown.”
“It is unAmerican and unconstitutional,” Lizama said.
Francisco Trevino, Greater Tulsa Hispanic Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, speaks at a Thursday press conference to oppose the Arizona State Legislature's passage of Senate Bill 1070. SHERRY BROWN/Tulsa World
Francisco Trevino (center), Greater Tulsa Hispanic Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, speaks at a Thursday press conference to oppose the Arizona State Legislature's passage of Senate Bill 1070. SHERRY BROWN/Tulsa World