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Former Oklahoma House Speaker, Governor Push Immigration Reform

Jim Greenhill
Flickr Creative Commons
Former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating

Several Oklahoma Republican leaders have joined a nationwide coalition of business and manufacturing groups in urging Congress to pass immigration reform they say is vital to the nation's economy.

Former House Speaker Kris Steele and former Gov. Frank Keating wants the GOP and President Obama to work together to enact federal legislation on immigration.

“I think if he took that leadership role, and I told him precisely that, that I think we could get something done, because I think everybody is appalled by what’s going on with these youngsters,” Keating says. “They can’t believe that the families would let them travel, and all that dangerous route that they have to travel, and not have some result coming from the United States.”

Keating said during a conference call with reporters Wednesday the United States needs to provide an opportunity for prompt hearings, decisions, and deportations.

"To wait on these kids for several years and let them basically be in the communities at large will assure we'll get another 60,000 in the next six months, and there's simply no way to stop that," Keating says.

The group wants to increase opportunities for immigrants to enter the U.S. workforce and for foreign students to remain in the country to work.

“The reality is there is a regular way to come to the United States, and to have people decide they're just going to come because they want to come is not fair to the people who are standing in line," Keating says. "And I just can't believe that children at a very young age can say that they know what's going on in their country and that they need to get out of there because it's dangerous."

The coalition also wants to streamline the process for employers to hire immigrant workers and to establish a path to legal status for those workers who are currently living in the country.

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Brian Hardzinski is from Flower Mound, Texas and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He began his career at KGOU as a student intern, joining KGOU full time in 2009 as Operations and Public Service Announcement Director. He began regularly hosting Morning Edition in 2014, and became the station's first Digital News Editor in 2015-16. Brian’s work at KGOU has been honored by Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI), the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters, the Oklahoma Associated Press Broadcasters, and local and regional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists. Brian enjoys competing in triathlons, distance running, playing tennis, and entertaining his rambunctious Boston Terrier, Bucky.
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