Senator Roland’s bill made it out of committee on February 7, 2023, and will now go to the full Oklahoma Senate for consideration.
Oklahoma Senators, please pass Senate Bill 682. Many of you are my personal friends. I respect your service to our state. I respect your love for the people of Oklahoma. This bill could be the most humanitarian and compassionate legislation you will pass this year.
THE IMPORTANCE OF OKLAHOMA SENATE BILL 682
Senate Bill 682 will allow the Marshallese men and women who live in Oklahoma to obtain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) to work in the transportation industry.
The Department of Public Safety supports Senate Bill 682 and helped Senator Roland with the appropriate language for the bill.
The Marshallese people of Oklahoma require NO VISA and NO IMMIGRATION PAPERS to enter, live, and work in Oklahoma and any other state in the United States.
Thousands of Marshallese people have come to Oklahoma and live in our great state.
For example, the city where I live, Enid, Oklahoma, has the largest “percentage to population” of Marshallese than any other city in the United States. Portland, Oregon, and Springfield, Arkansas, are a close second and third to Enid.
The Marshallese are the only people group in the world that can freely enter and leave the United States without a VISA. The Marshallese can join the United States military and fight for our freedoms, and many of them do. The Marshallese in Oklahoma work in our industries and pay taxes to Oklahoma and the United States of America.
But as the current law of Oklahoma reads, the Marshallese cannot obtain a CDL. To have a CDL in Oklahoma, you must be a citizen or have immigration papers. The Marshallese need no immigration papers. They can travel freely back and forth between the United States and the islands, and they do not need to obtain immigration status.
SB682 will allow the Marshallese to obtain a Commercial Driving License in Oklahoma.
The Marshallese need opportunities to work and make a living in Oklahoma. They must be enabled to work in professional transportation by obtaining their Commercial Driving Licenses.
But the current laws of Oklahoma require immigration papers to obtain a CDL.
This short post is to help you understand WHY the MARSHALLESE do NOT have immigration papers and why Senate Bill 682 is needed to help the MARSHALLESE OF OKLAHOMA to obtain a CDL license.
THE DESTRUCTION OF THE MARSHALL ISLANDS
It snowed in the Pacific Ocean on March 1, 1954, or so it seemed to the fishermen casting their nets for tuna near the Marshall Islands on that early Monday morning.
Big, white flakes were falling from the sky.
The men on the Lucky Dragon #5 fishing boat marveled at the falling flakes. One fisherman palmed a snowflake and put it in his mouth. It didn’t melt, nor did it have any taste. The fisherman quickly spat out the gritty flake.
It wasn’t snow.
Pulverized, radioactive coral was falling from the sky as in a winter snowstorm. The men on the boat concentrated on their tuna fishing while the white ash covered them like icing on a wedding cake. After a few hours, the white stuff stopped falling. The fishermen believed the ash a nuisance, but none thought it deadly.
The red dot is the location of the Marshall Islands
But they had become dead men walking.
The white stuff, later called “death ash” by these same fishermen, was the radioactive fallout from a hydrogen bomb the United States military had detonated in the Marshall Islands of the Pacific.
Those who came in contact with this radioactive substance would suffer from life-long illnesses or die a premature, painful death. Their moving stories are told in the book The Day the Sun Rose in the West.
What had happened? From where had the nuclear ash originated?
At 6:45 am on that Monday morning, March 1, 1952, the United States military detonated in the Marshall Islands the largest thermonuclear (hydrogen) bomb ever created. The U.S. government called the bomb Castle Bravo.
From 1946, the year after World War II ended, til 1958, the U.S. military conducted nuclear testing operations in the Marshall Islands, detonating 67 nuclear and thermonuclear bombs. The bomb dropped that Monday morning, March 1, 1954, was the largest of the 67 bombs. The snowflakes that fell on the fisherman 70 miles away were pieces of coral from the island that had been pulverized, radiated, and blown into the stratosphere, only to fall back to earth like snow. The men on the boat had seen and heard the explosion, which seemed like “the sun rising in the west,” but the ash that fell during the late morning and afternoon killed them.
According to nuclear physicist Robert A. Naballa, the combined explosive yield of the sixty-seven nuclear bombs detonated in the Marshall Islands during those twelve years was equivalent to one Hiroshima-sized bomb detonated daily for nineteen years.
THE MARSHALLESE AND THE UNITED STATES
Pacific Islanders who originate from the Marshall Islands are called Marshallese. Because of the American government’s testing of nuclear weapons on their islands, the Marshallese found their fish had become contaminated, their coconut trees gave them poisoned milk, and their radiated land grew radioactive vegetables.
The Marshallese people were doomed.
Many Marshallese women began giving birth to children with deformities. Marshallese men died at a young age from cancer. Many Marshallese starved for lack of quality food. The Marshallese needed help.
In 1986 the United States Congress signed into law the Compact of Free Association, which allowed Marshallese people to come to America without visas, work at American jobs, and start new lives in America.
Thousands of Marshallese people have come to Oklahoma.
Enid, Oklahoma, has the largest “percentage to population” of Pacific Islanders than any other city in America. Most of the over 5,000 Pacific Islanders in Enid, Oklahoma (Pop. 51,000) are Marshallese.
They need our help.
Though the Marshallese pay taxes, and though the Marshallese are allowed to join the United States military, the Marshallese do not qualify for Medicaid or other government benefit programs.
They are the forgotten people of the Pacific.
Please, Oklahoma Senators, allow our Marshallese Oklahomans to obtain their Commercial Driving Licenses to work in transportation.
Your support of Senate Bill 682 will make that happen.
Thank you, Senator Roland Pederson!
May your fellow Senators pass Senate Bill 682 and help the incredible Marshallese people of Oklahoma.
VOTE YES! OKLAHOMA SENATE BILL 682!