Widespread reports of vanishing employees and schoolchildren suggest tens of thousands of illegal immigrants have left Oklahoma for neighboring states or their native countries since House Bill 1804 took effect last November.
State Rep. Randy Terrill, the Republican author of the law, says the state will save money over the long term because taxpayers won’t be subsidizing services for illegal immigrants: ‘There’s significant evidence that HB 1804 is achieving its intended purpose, which is illegal aliens leaving the state of Oklahoma.’ Terrill added: ‘HB 1804 is a model not only for Oklahoma, but for other states and the nation as well.’
The key provisions of Oklahoma’s new immigration law are: (1) it makes transporting, concealing, harboring or sheltering illegal immigrants a felony, (2) it denies illegal immigrants from having driver’s licenses and other official state government indentifications, (3) it requires state and local government agencies (at present) and private businesses too (beginning July 1) to check new hires against a national federal database to make sure they are legally eligible to work, (4) it denies to illegal immigrants certain public-money benefits, such as rental assistance and fuel subsidies.
Republican state Rep. Shane Jett, who opposed the so-called ‘1804’ law, offers a dire prediction for Oklahoma’s economy: ‘[It] will be the single most destructive economic disaster since the Dust Bowl,’ he says. Cotton gins, hotels and home builders have lost workers, not all of whom were illegal aliens. Some workers who’ve relocated either were citizens or legal residents but were married to illegal aliens. Others had family members living with or near them who were in the country illegally. Restaurant and grocery store owners have complained of fewer customers.
State Rep. Kris Steele, a Republican who voted for the law, wishes to see it amended. He says he’s received calls from non-immigrants complaining that they had to produce official birth certificates or certified copies to renew their driver’s licenses. Jett now wants to create a state-run program that would allow illegal immigrants without violent criminal histories to pay a fine, then to continue to work in the state and to pay state taxes. Those workers, says Jett, would be considered exempt from 1804 at the state level but still subject to federal immigration laws.
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Here’s a link to the USA Today article that provides the source material for this posting. For obvious reasons that article was couched and organized differently.
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The partisan breakdown of the Oklahoma State House, the driving force behind that brass-knuckled immigration law:
57 – Republicans
44 – Democrats