Toughest U.S. Immigration Law Takes Effect in Oklahoma
Oklahoma House Bill 1804, known as the Oklahoma Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act of 2007, went into effect Thursday, Nov. 1, after a U.S. District Court judge denied an 11th-hour request to block it.
The law bans illegal immigrants from obtaining official state government identification, including driver’s licenses; terminates most public assistance for illegal immigrants; grants state and local law enforcement officials the authority to enforce federal immigration law; and enacts employer penalties for knowingly hiring illegal immigrants
While Oklahoma's new law is widely seen as the toughest in the U.S., other states are turning up the heat on the nation’s 12 million undocumented immigrants.
In Utah , Republican State Sen. Bill Hickman has plans to introduce legislation similar to the Oklahoma law. In Missouri, Gov. Matt Blunt announced an effort to deputize some of his state’s law enforcement officers to enforce federal immigration laws.
Anti-immigration advocates have begun to push for similar laws in neighboring Arkansas. In the state's northwest, where most of Arkansas' Latinos live, four police agencies have signed up with the customs and immigration agency to enforce immigration law more efficiently. Mike Beebe, the Democratic governor, wants state troopers to get tougher too.
It is estimated that immigrants in Arkansas contribute $2.9 billion directly or indirectly to the state's economy each year, which has prompted one pro-business group to form. Executives from some of Arkansas's principal companies — Tyson Foods, the world's largest meat processor, and Alltel, a wireless company — joined ministers, civic leaders and the local American Civil Liberties Union to form the Arkansas Friendship Coalition.
The group stresses that states should abide by federal immigration laws rather than try to make their own.
Though punitive or restrictive measures have received the most attention, there has also been a substantial push to integrate. Over the last 18 months, about a third of the some 130 immigration-related ordinances introduced around the country have been geared toward providing more English-language courses and other immigrant-friendly initiatives, according to the Migration Policy Institute.
One state, Illinois, has responded specifically to the polarizing debate over immigration by working to find ways to bring immigrants into the mainstream more quickly through local language classes and assimilation training.
For more information, e-mail Carlos Gutierrez at NAHB, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8279.