Today, CNN posted a generally feel-good story on Oklahoma’s rising Latino population, noting that “Latinos now account for 9% of Oklahoma’s 3.8 million residents, and are the largest minority group, surpassing the number of Native Americans.” The reporters also point out that, as the state’s Latino population has grown from 179,000 in 2000 to more than 332,000 in 2010, state lawmakers have passed a series of anti-immigrant laws. One of those lawmakers is state Sen. Ralph Shortey (R).
Shortey recently introduced a bill which would reinterpret the 14th amendment’s citizenship clause to deny the U.S.-born children of undocumented women citizenship. He is also the leading sponsor of the “Arizona-plus” bill which would go beyond Arizona’s controversial immigration law by allowing police to confiscate property belonging to those in the country illegally. Shortey shared his own views on the growing Latino population in his state with CNN:
Republican state Sen. Ralph Shortey said he’s not surprised by the increasing number of Latino residents; Oklahoma can be a comfortable, prosperous place to move, legally or illegally, he said. [...]
Culturally, Shortey said, Oklahoma isn’t changing. Latino residents “are not assimilating and enriching the culture of Oklahoma. They are invading the culture,” Shortey said. “Oklahoma is not the melting pot…(Latinos are) not doing their culture any favors when it’s shoved into Oklahomans’ faces.”
In the past, Shortey has also complained that Latinos “won’t call the police. They’ll call the local gang dealer to help them with a problem.” He also indicated that Native Americans have “already lost this country once” and some of his “friends” fear “losing this country again.”
Proponents of the immigration bills that Shortey has sponsored claim that their position is all about public safety, economic fairness, and the rule of law. Meanwhile anti-immigrant legislation that was passed in Oklahoma in the past has had a terrible effect on the state’s economy. Although, based on Shortey’s statements which seem to suggest that his qualms with immigration are largely cultural, past bills may be considered successful on the basis that they drove thousands of Latinos out of the state.
And as Shortey accuses Latinos of shoving their culture in people’s faces, CNN’s story focused on a Mexican immigrant turned U.S. citizen who built “a small empire of businesses feeding Oklahoma City’s appetite for Tex-Mex.”