Each year, CAIR Oklahoma (CAIR-OK) develops policy priorities to advance key issues and promote civic engagement among Oklahoma Muslims. The priorities are informed by research, community interest, CAIR-OK’s mission, and is approved by our Board of Directors.
If you have any feedback regarding our policy priorities or would like to get more involved in CAIR-OK’s government affairs advocacy, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Housing and Health
This past year presented some unique challenges and opportunities to shape the focus of the Government Affairs Department for this upcoming session. The arrival of our new Afghan neighbors revealed some areas of improvement we can all advocate for in our state. Some of these priorities are new, while others emphasize the continued development of focus points and common issues.
Oklahoma lacks safe, hospitable, and affordable housing for many of its residents. Our 1,000+ new Afghan neighbors have experienced this issue first-hand. We must do better for all Oklahomans in supporting better housing for all Oklahomans.
- We support measures that ensure that all Oklahomans have long-term access to affordable housing.
- We encourage measures that would require housing to have air-conditioning as an aspect of habitability.
- We encourage the legislature to explore more opportunities for investment in housing funds.
- We advocate for policies that secure safe, equitable housing and halt retaliation efforts from landlords to tenants.
The effects of Covid have shown nationwide how ill prepared we were for drastic economic changes. Many of these changes were also evident in the health field.
Through a grant awarded to us by the Oklahoma State Health Department, we are taking an active role in disseminating PPE, COVID tests, and educational materials, in addition to completing comprehensive surveys aimed at finding further ways to support our community.
- We continue to support the right of an individual to maintain bodily autonomy for healthcare decisions and keep these choices between those they choose and their healthcare providers.
- We will advocate for our state to increase its support of individuals, businesses, and other organizations to provide better healthcare services.
- We encourage the state to seek policies that ensure safe, equitable healthcare for all Oklahomans.
Education and Civic Engagement
Oklahoma has continued to decline in education rankings across the nation. At CAIR Oklahoma, we believe much of our power in democracy begins in the classroom. We learn about our country and our ability to engage with elected leaders from teachers first. However, recent initiatives threaten our schools and in turn, threaten our chance at freedom for all.
- We support wages for teachers that reflect their expertise and importance and which contribute to growth in the education field.
- Students deserve to learn an unabridged version of history accounts for religious diversity, and that reflects the land we live on.
- We understand that while not all individual viewpoints are the same, students must learn, develop, and understand that respect is key to diversity.
- We advocate for policies that protect educators’ endeavors to broaden students’ minds while maintaining the values of freedom.
- We oppose measures that would seek to impose a singular viewpoint on students without accounting for the diversity of experiences and beliefs held by students and their families.
- We oppose measures that would weaken the power of citizen initiatives and grassroots levels of democratic processes.
- We will continue sponsoring efforts to help people engage in conversations with their representatives.
- We encourage people to hold their elected leaders to their vote and keep them accountable for the promises they made to their constituency.
State Transparency and Finance
Closely linked with civic engagement is transparency at the state level. It is impossible to engage with your legislators accurately if you do not know what they are doing with your money or what policies are being carried out.
- We support efforts that champion transparency and accountability at all levels.
- We oppose the diversion of funding away from state services that are crucial to many lives of Oklahomans.
- We will foster discussions regarding fair access to information and decision-making that affects constituents.
Voting and Civil Rights
The midterm election showed some historic wins for our community across the country. However, in our own community, we still have room for development. Voter turnout in Oklahoma still remains fairly dismal. Our Government Affairs department is committed to strengthening the Muslim vote through text-banking and voter registration, among other initiatives.
- We are committed to protecting voters’ rights at the polls and providing education on the voting process itself.
- We wish to remove barriers of availability, ability, or other forms of discrimination that block or discourage voters.
- We support legislation that broadens voters’ access to the ballot through automatic voter registration, early voting times, access to absentee ballots, and felon re-enfranchisement, in addition to other measures.
- We encourage and empower Muslims and other minorities who seek to run for office and broaden electoral diversity in the state.
Democracy is supposed to exist in the hands of the people, and this does not work if not all people are treated and protected equally. At CAIR Oklahoma, it is our utmost goal to ensure the lives of all Oklahomans are maintained with dignity and respect.
Freedom of Speech
- We will ensure that the rights to freedom of speech, press, and assembly are upheld.
- We empower our community to engage with these rights and ensure they are accessible to all Oklahomans.
- We oppose efforts to censure education and attempt only to teach one side of history, culture, and society.
- We support educational materials that respect our Indigenous peoples and maintain the right to individual self-determination.
Freedom of Religion
- We continue to fight for policies that prohibit the establishment of a state-sanctioned religion, as is not permitted in our Constitution.
- In doing so, we maintain active anti-discrimination efforts when attacks on religious freedom occur.
- We support inter-faith efforts that strengthen bonds between all Oklahomans.
- We oppose policies that focus on requiring the teaching of only one religion across the state and advocate for the rights of all people to practice faiths of their choosing.
Oklahoma took a monumental step following the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan, which left the country under Taliban rule and forced over 120,000 people to evacuate in a matter of weeks. Our own Governor advocated for the resettlement of over 1,800 Afghan refugees in our state. This promise exemplified the Oklahoma spirit we all know and love. However, we still need to go beyond acceptance and fight for more access for all immigrants in our state.
Barriers to Employment
With a growing immigrant population, we will advocate for avenues that increase access to employment opportunities.
- We encourage research into expanding the language for the driver’s license exam to reflect the diversity of our state.
- We call for increases in the functionality of public transportation in Oklahoma.
- We encourage state efforts to help secure employment status, maintain healthcare initiatives, and ensure the safety and well-being of all workers in the state.
Access to Resources
- The state needs to follow through on their actions and create policies that support immigrants and their contributions to our communities.
- We oppose attempts to limit access to employment, healthcare, and education for diverse communities.
- We advocate for policies that call for translators or translation options to be available where rights can be infringed, where vital medical care is being conducted, and in other potentially high-stakes situations.
Afghan Adjustment Act
While CAIR Oklahoma focuses on state advocacy for our Muslim community, there is a robust world of policy making beyond our county, municipal, and state legislative bodies.
- With our Afghan neighbors arriving on a parolee status, we support Congressional efforts to rectify the current lack of clear citizenship opportunity status.
- We call on our elected Congress members to acknowledge the Afghan community in Oklahoma and to grant them the security, stability, and opportunity to rebuild their lives as our neighbors.
Oklahoma has a long history of racial disparities in the criminal justice system, especially with regard to incarceration and executions. CAIR Oklahoma stands with all communities under attack from our inequitable criminal legal system and advocates for ways to end this cycle of injustice.
Oklahoma County leads the nation in per capita death sentences, and those sentenced disproportionately represent the most vulnerable populations. Many executions have also led to a reversal on appeal, highlighting the deeply ingrained flaws of our system.
- We support efforts to halt executions in Oklahoma and to use the exorbitant amount of money used in death penalty cases to look at reform opportunities.
- We encourage policies that would make appeals easier, less financially crippling, and more accessible.
- We oppose attempts to block or restrict appeals and policies that weaken the pardon and parole system, which can be the last bastion before the state-sponsored murder of incarcerated individuals.
The only area where Oklahoma is Top 10 is in the rate at which we incarcerate our residents; in fact, we lead nationally and even internationally compared to other democratic nations. Most of these sentences are for nonviolent crimes, costing taxpayers billions of dollars and unjustly subjecting thousands of individuals to our harsh punitive system.
- We support efforts to reform the Oklahoma Criminal Code, which is outdated, overcomplicated, and only leads to lengthy sentencing at taxpayers’ expense.
- We support the decriminalization of many nonviolent crimes.
- We call for more significant support for employment post-incarceration to break the cycle of poverty, leading to recidivism and adverse outcomes for children.
- While incarcerated, people should not be subjected to abuse, neglect, negligence, or discrimination. We support measures that increase or establish protection for those in the state’s care and improve the conditions to which they are subjected through their sentences.
- The state’s responsibility should be to create and fund robust mental health and substance abuse services rather than criminalizing addiction, poverty, and health issues.
Checks and Balances
The first articles of our nation’s Constitution establish our system of Legislative, Executive, and Judiciary powers. These are balanced in such a way to preserve democracy and maintain that no single power reigns supreme.
- We oppose policies that aim to require our state judiciary to become a partisan body.
- It is essential to keep this balance among our branches to ensure the well-being of all Oklahomans.
- We encourage continued efforts to respect and establish historic tribal sovereignty in the State.
- We support policies that raise standards of gun ownership to that of our own Oklahoma standard.
- We encourage policymakers to create more stringent protocols for firearm training and acquisition.
- We oppose removing anyone’s ability to engage with their second amendment right on the basis of discrimination, profiling, or other unjust mechanisms.
Everyone deserves to feel safe in their communities, no matter how they look, what language they speak, or where they grew up. For those that swear to serve and protect, we must seek to grow in understanding together and doing right by all.
- Elected officials should seek further opportunities for diversity training in police departments.
- Efforts for greater access to translators or translation abilities in law enforcement or criminal justice systems are strongly encouraged.
- We support efforts for increased transparency in funding and de-escalation training.
- Law enforcement agencies are over-militarized, and they increasingly target minorities. We are against warrantless searches and discriminatory stop-and-search tactics.