Hispanic advocates plan rally at Oklahoma Capitol to voice frustration about new immigration law

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Gov. Kevin Stitt answers questions from the media on Friday at the Oklahoma State Capitol. (Photo by Janelle Stecklein/Oklahoma Voice)

OKLAHOMA CITY – Hispanic and other communities on Wednesday are expected to rally at the Capitol.

Organizers of the annual Hispanic Cultural Day at the Capitol have changed the format following the signing of a controversial immigration law.

The event has traditionally been held inside the Capitol and included advocacy, exhibits, food, dancing and booths.

But since Gov. Kevin Stitt signed House Bill 4156, the Legislative Latino Caucus received an outpouring of concern, said Rep. Arturo Alonso-Sandoval, D-Oklahoma City.

As a result, the group decided to change the format to include a rally, organized advocacy and some cultural celebrations.

“This change in format is a direct result of the frustration of folks — not only in the Latino community,” said Sen. Michael Brooks, D-Oklahoma City.

The organization has invited Oklahoma Asian, Native American and Middle Eastern communities “to stand with us, as well as many faith leaders and law enforcement professionals from across the state,” Brooks said.

The event will be from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. No identification is required to enter the Capitol.

Gov. Kevin Stitt on April 30 signed House Bill 4156.

The law creates a new crime called “impermissible occupation” for willfully entering the state without legal authorization to be in the United States.

The first offense is a misdemeanor punishable by one year in county jail and a fine of up to $500 or both.

The person would be required to leave the state within 72 hours.

A second offense is a felony with up to two years in prison, a fine of up to $1,000 or both.

Critics say the law will increase racial profiling, dissuade cooperation with the police and break up families.

Supporters say it is necessary to combat illegal immigration and secure the nation’s borders.

During a press availability Friday, Stitt responded to concerns about the law.

He said the Legislature wrote the bill to put pressure on the Biden administration.

“I think it puts more tools in the tool belts of law enforcement,” Stitt said.

The bill did not make it illegal to be an undocumented person, Stitt said.

“That’s already illegal,” Stitt said.

Some law enforcement entities have issued statements to alleviate fear and indicated that they were not going door-to-door rounding up people, Stitt said.

“I think Americans are fed up with the porous borders and the illegal crossings that are coming in,” Stitt said. “And so we’re just wanting the Biden administration to actually fix that.” 


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