Billboards challenging the state legislature are going up across Green Country. Two billboards on eastbound Interstate 44 accuse legislators of promoting hate and discrimination. The billboard was put up in protest of House Bill 1804, Oklahoma's immigration reform bill. News On 6 anchor Terry Hood reports the billboards, located at I-44 and 21st Street and I-44 and Sheridan, are just two in a series of billboards meant to spark opposition to the new law.
Opponents of Oklahoma's immigration reform want a young girl to be the face of the debate. They hope a crying girl, saying her mother "isn't a criminal, but a hard working Hispanic woman," drives their point home.
"We expect the government to make law that prevent discrimination, not require it," said David Bernstein with the Jewish Federation of Tulsa.
Representatives of different colors and faiths rallied in front of another billboard, accusing the state legislature of endorsing racism.
"It fosters that hatred or that division between groups and it is not right," Dr. Luis Carlos Sanchez with United Front Task Force said.
The two billboards on Interstate 44 are just the first in a series of billboards opponents of House Bill 1804 plan to put up. They say they want to change public perception about the law. Opponents say it promotes hate and discrimination, not equality. Lawmakers disagree.
"I feel very strongly that the bill itself is nationality-neutral," said Senator James Williamson.
Senator James Williamson and colleagues in the state legislature say the law doesn't target Hispanics, but illegals of any nationality. Oklahoma lawmakers say they can't wait for the federal government for immigration reform. They say they're stepping in to keep taxpayers from picking up the tab for illegal immigrants.
"We are trying to get ahead of the curve for a change in government and deal with it now," Williamson said.
Legislators don't deny the bill could take a toll on families.
"There are children who are here with illegal parents that are gonna be affected by this," said Williamson.
"In Oklahoma, House Bill 1804 seems to be designed to make life miserable for thousands of immigrants," Bernstein said.
Opponents say Oklahoma's immigration reform amounts to no less than state sponsored hate.
"There are people who just harbor in their heart ill-will, and this gives them an opportunity to vent that," Reverend Victor Orta of the American Dream Coalition said.
Opponents plan to challenge the immigration reform measure in court. They hope to stop it from taking effect in November. Lawmakers say attorneys reviewed the legislation before it passed in the Capitol. They believe the new law is airtight and won't be overturned.
Originally aired 8/1/2007 5:00 PM - Updated 8/3/2007 8:55 PM
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