Our sister station, KFDA, reports: Stronger state laws against them are making some illegal immigrants leave one area city behind. One area young man is fighting the pressure he feels to leave what he considers his hometown.
For 'Jose,' there is no place like the Oklahoma panhandle. This is home for me because I have never been back, he says. Never been back to Mexico since his parents brought him to the U.S. illegally when he was five. After Oklahoma enacted laws that punish employers who hire undocumented people, his family considered returning to Mexico.
But for Jose, that move would be foreign. "I've never been to Mexico since I was five. I have siblings that were born here. They have never even been to Mexico...and that doesn't look like a future for my family." Half his family members are citizens, and the others are illegal.
Jose's fear of a forceful split up does not go away. Every day, since I wake up until I got back to sleep, it's in my head all the time, says Jose. One local business owner acknowledge situations like Jose's are difficult, but feels Oklahoma's anti-illegal immigrant laws are justified.
"It really isn't fair for the American tax dollars to provide for these people," says Ursula Whitfield. But another leader calls the law a human injustice and warns it will only do the city harm as workers leave. I suspect we would lose some of the companies who've moved in recent years, says Father Bill Pruett of St. Peter's Catholic Church.
Jose studies construction at a local college, but his status makes his future job prospects slim. I don't know how much longer we can live like that...it's hard, he says. Jose tells us his family has been trying to become citizens for years...without success. He's hopeful he can hold out in the Oklahoma panhandle until that happens.