Panel Questions Constitutionality Of Immigration Law

Tuesday, September 25th 2007, 10:15 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A state panel is questioning the constitutionality of a new immigration enforcement law, with one member of the council claiming the measure is motivated by racism. The Latin American and Hispanic Affairs Advisory Council voted unanimously to send Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry a letter indicating the state law attempts to supersede federal law.

``Everybody is worried and seriously concerned,'' said Guillermo Rojas, a Tulsa businessman, and advisory council member. ``This is not just about immigration, this is racism.''

The group also wants Attorney General Drew Edmondson to weigh in on whether the Oklahoma legislation is constitutional.

HB 1804, authored by Rep. Randy Terrill, R-Moore, makes it illegal to transport, conceal, and harbor or house illegal immigrants. Violation of this order would be considered a felony, punishable by no less than a year in prison or a $1,000 fine. The bill goes into effect November 1.

Click here to read H.B. 1804.

State Rep. Al Lindley, who opposed the bill, already has requested an attorney general's opinion on the constitutionality of the measure, but that opinion likely won't be released before the bill takes effect, said Emily Lang, a spokeswoman for Edmondson's office.

The Oklahoma Taxpayer and Citizens Protection Act provides additional stipulations that criminalize both hiring and schooling illegal immigrants.

Oklahoma's new immigration law, largely considered one of the most stringent in the nation, takes effect November 1.

In Rojas' hometown of Tulsa, some elements of the immigration enforcement reform already are under way.

The Tulsa County Sheriff's Office, in an effort to ramp up, recently graduated more than 30 deputies with dual training in immigration and customs enforcement.

``The only one who can stop it now is the attorney general, with his opinion, or a fight in federal court,'' Rojas said of the Taxpayer and Citizens Protection Act.

Attorney Carole Wangrund said the law will be impossible to enforce without racial profiling.

``We are giving up all of our rights in the name of national security,'' Wangrund said. ``And for some bizarre reason, we are picking on the Hispanics.

``They passed this incredibly unconstitutional mess, without understanding that federal law pre-empts it,'' she added.

Terrill, R-Moore, said he will push for a second round of immigration reform in the next legislative session. Next year, reform efforts will center around making English the official language of Oklahoma through voter referendum.

Terrill also has said he is confident Oklahoma's law will stand up to judicial scrutiny, and has accused opponents of the law of trying to use the courts to stop something voters want.

Watch the video: Constitutionality Of Immigration Law Questioned

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