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Religious Leader Calls Immigration Forum

Besides struggling Hispanic businesses, Feliciano says worry over 1804 has also led to a shortage of construction workers, and caused his congregation to dwindle. Besides struggling Hispanic businesses, Feliciano says worry over 1804 has also led to a shortage of construction workers, and caused his congregation to dwindle.
House Bill 1804, Oklahoma's immigration reform law, goes into effect a little over a month from now, but Hispanic leaders in eastern Oklahoma say the bill has already had a devastating effect on their community. Some still hope to keep H.B. 1804 from becoming law. The News On 6's Chris Wright reports those leaders say H.B. 1804 continues to polarize the entire Tulsa community, and they want to bring everyone together to discuss the issue this weekend.

"Every single family that I have talked to, everyone, 100%, have plans to leave this city come November 1st or before," Mike Feliciano, Redemptive Word Ministries said.

Mike Feliciano, the head of Redemptive Word Ministries, still has hope that this exodus can be stopped, but it's fading. He says thousands of Hispanics have already fled Tulsa, leaving behind a struggling community, and struggling businesses.

Hispanic leaders say empty stores more than anything else shows the devastating effects 1804 is already having on the Hispanic community. In the middle of prime business hours many Hispanic shops in East Tulsa are already locked up and closed.

"I think come November 1st, I think come October 15th, we're going to be reach a point where, a point of no return," said Feliciano.

Before that point, Feliciano hopes to at least get the attention of state lawmakers, whom he believes voted for 1804 without properly considering its consequences. Among other things, the law will make it illegal to hire or harbor an undocumented worker. Besides struggling Hispanic businesses, Feliciano says worry over 1804 has also led to a shortage of construction workers, and caused his congregation to dwindle.

"We didn't cover all the bases," Mike Feliciano said. "Why don't we postpone the implementation of this law until we have all those bases covered?"

Redemptive Ministries will host an 1804 forum on Sunday. Feliciano promises it will be more civil than recent protests, and he hopes both sides of the immigration debate will attend.

"Are we too far gone? I don't think so, that's what we're trying to help," said Feliciano. "Are we in a place where it's dangerous and fear is running rampant? Absolutely."

The forum will be held on Sunday at 4 p.m. at the Green Country Event Center, located on 31st Street between Garnett and 129th East Avenue.

Meanwhile, it looks like the immigration debate will carry over into the courtroom. On Friday, the National Coalition of Latin Clergy will announce the details of a lawsuit it's filing to prevent 1804 from going into effect.

Originally aired 9/26/2007 8:20 PM - Updated 9/27/2007 8:43 AM

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