November 14, 2007

No Safe Haven: Oklahoma Shuts out Illegal Immigrants

A new Oklahoma law targeting undocumented workers is among the most punitive in the nation, making it illegal to “hire, transport or house an illegal immigrant.”

The law also authorizes police to help federal immigration officials enforce existing immigration laws.

Employers found to have hired undocumented workers will be penalized, and the state will not provide any services to illegal residents beyond what is required by federal law.

Proponents of the Oklahoma Taxpayer and Citizens Act say it reduces a growing “national security threat,” reports the government-funded Voice of America news service.

But opponents say the law is discriminatory — and has already had unintended consequences.

An Oklahoma county judge used the law, which went into effect Nov. 1, to jail two Latino men when he forced them to admit they were in the country illegally, reports the Associated Press.

An attorney for the two men said the proceedings were a violation of their Fifth Amendment rights again self-incrimination.

The local district attorney, meanwhile, said the law justified his prosecutors informing a judge when they think someone might be an illegal immigrant.

The AP also notes that the law will inconvenience 195,000 Oklahomans with expired driver’s licenses.

Now, they’ll be required to show proof of legal residency with a passport, a birth certificate or a visa.

According to the National Catholic Reporter, the state’s top religious authorities, including the Archbishop of Oklahoma City and the Oklahoma Conference of Churches, have signed a pledge resisting the immigration law, under which they could be fined or sent to jail for the simple act of providing food or other assistance to a family of undocumented residents.

“Our various faith traditions instruct us to do good to all peoples,” reads the pledge. “There is no exemption clause for those persons who do not have documentation of their citizenship status.”

The law faces a number of legal challenges, one of which has already been thrown out.

Other states are watching to see whether the Oklahoma law holds up in court; Utah lawmakers say they want to model proposed legislation on the new Oklahoma law.

There have been 182 immigration-related laws passed in 43 states this year, according to Voice of America.

Sources:

“Oklahoma implements toughest U.S. measures against illegal immigrants”
Voice of America, November 5, 2007

“Immigration law faces new legal challenge”
Associated Press, November 10, 2007

“Expired license renewal process complicated by law”
Associated Press, November 10, 2007

“Archbishop, priests resist anti-immigration law”
National Catholic Reporter, November 9, 2007

2 thoughts on “No Safe Haven: Oklahoma Shuts out Illegal Immigrants

  1. Archbishop Eusebius Beltran

    If you want to do something about this, go to Mexico and get it done. Get the crooked degenerates there to raise their kids properly and not to be crooks. Mexico is the crookedest place in our hemisphere. Quit trying to save the problem after the fact. I very much believe in God and try to do the right thing as well as give generously to all concerned. My advice to the Archbishop is to concentrate on those in his parish and stop trying to be a savior to the illegal. If you stop to think about it, the Catholic church has been involved there since ???? and the place still reeks of criminality.

    Bob Hoppe