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Legal Immigrants Afraid They'll Be Profiled

Many folks think the only people who have a reason to be afraid of Oklahoma's new immigration law are illegal immigrants. The News On 6's Ashli Sims reports two local educators say that is not the case. The women say they are living in fear that their immigration status will be questioned even though they are both legal residents.

Gabby Dorsett teaches Spanish at a local bilingual preschool, but she says the climate in Tulsa has changed so much, she is afraid her own child will not speak the language in public.

"I love Tulsa. I love to be here, and I love America. I feel part American, I've been here for ten years, but I'm afraid," preschool teacher Gabby Dorsett said.

Dorsett is a permanent legal resident, married to an American. She says legal and illegal immigrants alike feel paralyzed by Oklahoma's sweeping new immigration reform.

"Those people are scared to send their kids to school. They are scared to drive. And as a human being, it's not nice to live in fear. Who wants to live in fear?" said Dorsett.

Proponents of House Bill 1804 have long said legal residents have nothing to fear.

"If you're legal you're welcome here, we welcome you, we don't care what color your skin is, what your background is, what your ethnicity is, this is about rule of law," immigration reform supporter Dan Howard said.

But some say they no longer feel welcome.

"I felt welcome but this last month I am with fear. I am with fear because I don't know what can happen," preschool administrator Marina Savoretti said.

They fear what can happen is they will be arrested for looking Hispanic. Both women have stories of friends and relatives, who they say were racially profiled. But Tulsa Police and the Tulsa County Sheriff's Department say that isn't happening. Dorsett and Savoretti are concerned about what will happen to them, if they're stopped with someone who is illegal.

"I have to ask my friend, 'are you legal, so you can ride with me?' No, that's not right," said preschool teacher Gabby Dorsett.

Gabby Dorsett says this issue is very personal to her, because of her family. While Gabby's a legal resident, some of her relatives are not.

Originally aired 11/2/2007 4:45 PM - Updated 11/2/2007 7:35 PM

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