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Immigration bill draws criticism from Oklahoma’s Latino Caucus


Immigration bill draws criticism from Oklahoma’s Latino Caucus

Apr 16, 2024 | 4:41 pm ET
By Barbara Hoberock
Immigration bill draws criticism from Oklahoma’s Latino Caucus
Rep. Arturo Alonso-Sandoval, D-Oklahoma City, speaks at a press conference on Tuesday about an illegal immigration bill. (Photo by Barbara Hoberock/Oklahoma Voice)

OKLAHOMA CITY – Members of the Oklahoma Legislative Latino Caucus on Tuesday expressed opposition to a recent illegal immigration bill.

House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, and Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, are the authors of a measure that seeks to crack down on illegal immigration.

House Bill 4156, unveiled last week, could be heard this week in the House.

Under the measure, anyone in the state illegally would face a misdemeanor and $500 fine. Violators would be given 72 hours to leave the state.

A second offense would be a felony with a fine of up to $1,000 and up to two years in prison.

Rep. Annie Menz, D-Norman, said Oklahoma for years has had many undocumented immigrants residing, working, raising families and paying taxes.

The community is filling jobs that are critical in hospitality, agriculture and construction,  said Rep. Arturo Alonso-Sandoval, D-Oklahoma City.

“Not only that, but it’s a community that pays millions of dollars of taxes every single year towards benefits they will never see,” Sandoval said.

Oklahoma should find solutions instead of copying “reactionary measures” from other states for political gain during an election year, he said.

Passed in 2023 in Texas, Senate Bill 2 allows law enforcement to arrest illegal immigrants. It is the subject of a legal challenge.

The Oklahoma measure targets migrants, is a radical expansion of police power and could lead to profiling, Sandoval said.

Sen. Michael Brooks, D-Oklahoma City, said 7% of the state’s workforce is immigrant labor working in jobs that are hard to fill.

Brooks said he has authored legislation the past two years that would empower the state to succeed where the federal government has failed to address key issues. 

He said it included provisions to allow individuals to obtain a state ID or driver’s license if they comply with specific requirements, including paying state and federal income tax, verifying their identity with the state, registering their address and submitting a fingerprint that would be part of the largest law enforcement database in the United States. 

“These are real solutions that would move our state forward economically and address public safety concerns,” he said.