State Capitol
The Oklahoma State Capitol AFP

A state representative from Oklahoma has apologized after introducing a bill that would declare terrorists all Hispanics who are gang members and convicted of a gang-related crime.

Concretely, the bill introduced by Republican Justin Humphrey said that any person of "Hispanic descent living within the state of Oklahoma" who is a gang member and has been convicted of "gang-related offenses" would be deemed a terrorist.

Following the controversy, Humphrey told NBC News that he intended to focus on ""those people who are here illegally and who are coming across the border and trying to do harm to America and to Oklahoma." In consequence, he added, the language will be altered and focus on "undocumented" people.

"I don't believe that the Mexican cartel, the Hispanic gangs, are the only bad actors ... I don't really say, 'I made a mistake' or that it was racial, because it wasn't, but it was an oversight and it could be made much, much better by expanding that to say, 'any undocumented person,'" Humphrey added.

Democratic state Senator Michael Brooks told NBC affiliate KFOR that the bill is not likely to pass. "All groups have a constitutional right to due process and also a constitutional right not to be discriminated against or to be singled out," Brooks said. "Nobody is in favor or I don't think there's an appetite anymore for more divisive politics. Personally, I think his constituents deserve better than this type of legislation."

The initiative comes as some Republican state authorities are looking to toughen their laws to crack down on the ever-increasing amount of migrants crossing the border. Texas stands out among them, as it is currently embroiled in a legal battle with the Biden administration over its decision to block access to an area of the southern border.

The Department of Homeland Security sent the state a cease-and-desist letter this week, but Attorney General Ken Paxton said that that the "facts and law side with Texas" in its decision to have the state's national guard take over Shelby Park, a hotspot of immigration in Eagle Pass.

The government, which has labeled Texas' actions as "clearly unconstitutional," had already warned it would refer the matter to the Department of Justice if the state didn't comply with the cease-and-desist letter sent by the Department of Homeland Security.

Shelby Park is used by Border Patrol agents to inspect and hold migrants and, according to DHS' top lawyer Jonathan Meyer, National Guard forces prevented federal operations to apprehend migrants and rescue those who might be in distress.

Governor Greg Abbott
Texas Governor Greg Abbott VERONICA CARDENAS/Reuters

The Biden administration also filed a lawsuit claiming a new Texas law, which allows local officials to arrest and deport migrants who cross the border unlawfully, is unconstitutional.

SB4, as Texas' law is known, makes it a misdemeanor to illegally cross the border and a second-degree felony to do so for a second time. Punishments for this latter case range between 180 days in jail to 20 years in prison. The law also allows judges to order that undocumented people "return to the foreign nation from which they entered."

Texas governor Greg Abbott, on his end, is upping the ante with new, harsher remarks on immigration enforcement. In an interview with Dana Loesch, former spokesperson for the National Riffle Association (NRA), Abbott lamented that Texas authorities cannot shoot migrants who cross the border illegally because the federal government could charge them with murder.

© 2024 Latin Times. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.