Oklahoma Supreme Court Says Immigration Law Is Mostly Constitutional

Tuesday, June 14th 2011, 9:57 pm
By: News On 6

Lacie Lowry, News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The state Supreme Court upheld nearly every aspect of Oklahoma's anti-illegal immigration law. The justices agreed with a lower court's ruling on House Bill 1804 Tuesday, saying that all but two provisions of the bill are constitutional.

News On 6 spoke with Representative Randy Terrill, the author of House Bill 1804. He said the court's decision validates Oklahoma's attempt to crack down on illegal immigration.

"It is a very big decision and it's one that I'm mostly pleased with," Terrill said.

Terrill sees the state Supreme Court's decision as validation, except for one provision that failed, which would have denied bail to any illegal immigrant arrested for felonies or DUIs.

"I'm particularly concerned about that because I think it presents a very clear and present danger to the citizens and taxpayers of the state of Oklahoma," he said.

Representative Terrill has been defending the bill since it went into effect in November 2007. He says the court is upholding four key provisions, including:

  • Illegal immigrants cannot get government issued id's like a driver's license
  • Illegal immigrants aren't eligible for most state benefits funded by taxpayers
  • State and local law enforcement can cooperatively enforce federal immigration law
  • The State can require employers to check the legal status of their employees

"The opinion today by the Oklahoma Supreme Court, as well as the previous U.S. Supreme Court decisions, most notably say that the state, if it wanted to, could mandate the use of E-Verify by every private business in the state of Oklahoma," Terrill said.

Oklahoma's law is considered one of the toughest in the nation. The rallies, vigils and numerous court hearings have polarized the people every step of the way.

"We really couldn't care less what your last name is, what your skin color is, or whether you speak with an accent. What we want to know is if you are in the country legally or illegally," he said.

Representative Terrill says he will introduce a bill the next legislative session, proposing a constitutional amendment that allows the public to vote on the "no bail" provision that failed Tuesday.