The Hispanic community in Tulsa wanted to make a statement when workers walked off the job Monday and many Tulsa Public Schools students skipped classes to attend a downtown rally.
News on 6 anchor Tami Marler says no one can give exact figures on what one day without immigrants meant to Tulsa, but what if Mexican immigrants were to leave forever?
A restaurant in the Plaza Santa Cecilia in east Tulsa is like more than 5,400 Oklahoma businesses, owned by Hispanic immigrants. But on a day without immigrants, there was no commerce at the plaza.
"We closed for business because we wanted to support the immigrants." In the center, where there are 28 vendors, that means no sales tax, no payroll taxes and that takes money out of Tulsa's economy. "When they go and buy food in the restaurants or to the grocery or something they pay taxes, I mean like any other normal people." Pedro Miranda says his shopping center is growing, but only about half his customers are coming in, the day after the rally. "There's a lot of families because there are rumors that the immigration's in town, and so they're scared."
"They come from cultures where you took care of yourself, so being on the political radar screen was not a good thing." Fred Ramos says The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce did not endorse employees boycotting their jobs to attend the rally, but he was impressed by the show of solidarity, in numbers that can't be denied. "Let's discuss this. Put it on the table and get it done. Of course there's a lot of plusses and minuses."
Ramos says the pluses include an economic impact of more than a billion dollars in Oklahoma, annual revenue generated by Hispanic-owned businesses. "We used to be the oil capitol of the world, now we're not. We used to be the telecommunications of the world. So we're trying to re-identify ourselves, and I think it's going to be small business."
And Ramos says, future generations will lead the way. "They will be educated, they will have skills; they'll be acculturated; they'll understand the process."
Ramos says, almost 20-percent of Tulsa Public students are Hispanic, 33-percent of Oklahoma City students. Even if their parents are here illegally, they're not.
The News on 6 spoke with John Hamill with Tulsa Public Schools who says absences in the school district were not significant enough Monday to affect state funding.