Closing the Wealth Gap
Oklahoma women and people of color face a significant wealth gap, with households of color having as little as a third of the wealth as their white counterparts. This stems from a multitude of factors, including unequal access to education, transportation, and employment, as well as discrimination and overpolicing. YWCA Tulsa supports budget and tax policies that invest in education and training opportunities and create a strong social safety net that is accountable to the needs of the most vulnerable among us. Our economy is at its best when Oklahomans who climb the biggest obstacles and start out in life with the least opportunity are afforded as many chances to move up the economic ladder as everyone else.
Protecting and Advancing Immigrants’ Rights
National Immigration Reform: YWCA is committed to advocating for a common sense immigration process that keeps families together in the U.S., creates a fair and just roadmap for citizenship for the 11 million aspiring to be citizens, and streamlines the immigration process for those who seek to enter the U.S. now and in the future.
State Immigration Policy: YWCA opposes state and local anti-immigrant policies and the deputization of local law enforcement to enforce immigration laws. These laws create a hostile environment for all immigrants, send a strong unwelcoming message that conflicts with core Oklahoma values, and promote discrimination and dehumanization of newcomers to our state. They distract law enforcement from their core mandate to protect public safety at the expense of taxpayers and immigrant communities. YWCA supports affirmative state policies that more effectively integrate newcomers into our communities, investing in rather than marginalizing immigrants.
Reforming the Criminal Justice System
Oklahoma incarcerates women at twice the national average, at the highest rate in the world. We are second in incarcerating black men and third in imprisoning people overall. Tulsa’s status as a 287(g) county further exacerbates the already strained relationship between law enforcement and our immigrant communities.
These factors results in structural disempowerment for women and people of color, as incarceration severely limits individuals’ professional, economic, and personal options. Studies show that increased incarceration does not limit crime, but rather increases direct financial costs to the state and decreases overall economic growth.
Since the 1970s, YWCA Tulsa has opposed policies that overburden the criminal justice system rather than making communities safer, especially those that punish nonviolent offenders, drug abuse, poverty, and undocumented immigration. YWCA believes these challenges stems from an overly punitive, profit-driven criminal justice system, and supports reforms to policing, sentencing, and prison policies to promote treatment, rehabilitation, and reintegration.
Making Democracy Accessible
Civic engagement in Oklahoma has dropped to record levels: voter registration and participation is at historic lows, and the democratic process has become more opaque and difficult to access each year. The right to vote is a foundation of our democracy, but voter suppression measures continue to marginalize voters in our community. Policies limiting access to voting, including Voter ID, proof of citizenship laws, reduction of early and absentee voting days, precinct closures, and restrictions on voter registration (including for people with felony convictions) impact the ability to cast a ballot for tens of thousands of voters.
YWCA supports legislation that ensures that all eligible voters are able to routinely, easily, and successfully exercise their right to vote. Voting rights laws must ensure that historically-disenfranchised voters, such as women and communities of color, are able to fulfill their constitutionally-protected right to vote. We are also committed to empowering voters by providing community education on state and federal policies, especially as they impact our constituencies, and on voting and elections.