Oklahoma Gubernatorial Candidates Address Immigration Concerns

Thursday, November 2nd 2006, 10:22 am
By: News On 6

Immigration is an important issue in next week’s election. Our Oklahoma Poll shows one out of nine Oklahomans believes it's the most important issue for deciding the governor's race.

News on 6 anchor Terry Hood finds this is one issue where the candidates share common ground. Both say their opponent hasn't done enough to stop the surge of illegal immigrants.

Ernest Istook has a personal stake in the immigration debate. His grandparents immigrated to this country from Hungary legally. And he wants to see others do the same. Istook says Brad Henry has made Oklahoma a haven for illegals, by providing state benefits like discount tuition at Oklahoma colleges. "Remember the problem is not just at the border, most people who are here illegally are here in the Heartland. So we need a combined approach at all levels of government, which is what I intend to follow."

Governor Brad Henry: "We need to all work together, no question." Except Henry says it's a failing of the federal government, and congressmen like Istook. "Congress needs to act. I mean, the Oklahoma way is we're producing the results. We're sending our troops to the border to help with border security. We are, through our law enforcement, apprehending illegals, but we need help from the federal government."

Along with sending Oklahoma National Guardsmen to patrol the border, Henry
says he also wants to crack down on employers who hire illegals, and the people who provide them with falsified papers.

Istook wants to go even further. "Georgia and Colorado passed laws like I want to enact in Oklahoma to make sure people who are illegally here don't get public benefits and are not employed. We also need to make English our official language as most states did years ago."

Governor Brad Henry: "I think everyone agrees the first thing we have to do is secure our borders. Oklahoma can't go secure the national borders. That's got to be done by the federal government."

Voters told the News on 6, immigration was the third most important issue this election year.