Some Tulsa ministers say Oklahoma's new immigration law took a toll on attendance Sunday morning. Some churches were down almost 30%. The News On 6's Joshua Brakhage reports ministers blame the empty pews on Hispanic families who have left Oklahoma and others who stayed away out of deportation fears.
"I know a lot of people who already left," said Mario, who is working toward citizenship.
Mario and his wife, Leticia, say they've thought of leaving, too, but decided it would be too hard on their son and two daughters. Leticia and Mario are Mexican residents, but their children are American. Mario first came to the United States 18 years ago.
"This is my home. This is his home, her home, and now it's my home," said Leticia, who is working to become an American citizen.
Nearly everyone attending a meeting at the Eastside Sports Complex opposes House Bill 1804, but they say worse than the new law are the rumors spreading about it.
"Once people hear rumors, it just goes like wildfire, and that's not true. We want to share with them instantly, this is the truth," said Rev. Victor Orta.
That's why leaders invited Tulsa's Hispanic community to the Eastside Sports Complex, to help untangle the rumors, and get their message out.
"God is gonna set us free," said Rev. Victor Orta. "We are going to remain united."
United in the fight against rumors of round-ups, evictions, and police check-points, Orta says the fight to overturn the law continues in federal court.
"We hope that the law stops so everybody can live a better life," said Mario, who is working to become a U.S. citizen.
Mario says he's said goodbye to friends. Some have left Oklahoma. Some have gone back to their home countries. Whether it is rumor or reality, this family says it's not ready to give up on Oklahoma.
"Mexico maybe is my country, my husband and I, but this is the country of my kids. So we fight for the country of my kids and we don't leave," added Leticia.
Again, Mario and Leticia are working to become U.S. citizens, but it is not a quick process. It can take a year to get a green card and several more to become citizens.
Originally aired 11/4/2007 5:05 PM - Updated 11/5/2007 11:11 AM