Oklahoma Law on Illegal Immigration Stands


ACRU Staff


November 2, 2007

Oklahoma passed a law to discourage businesses in that state from hiring illegal aliens, and property owners from renting to illegal aliens, similar to laws passed in Hazleton, Penn., and Farmers Branch, Tex. But in Oklahoma, the federal judge considering whether the law was unconstitutional, let it stand, and illegal aliens by the thousands are now fleeing Oklahoma. Both the law and the court decision are positive examples to the rest of the country, including Congress and the Supreme Court.

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The facts for this story, but not the legal conclusions, come from a story on the KOTV website, from Tulsa, Oklahoma, on 31 October. From the story, it is not clear whether the ACLU was directly involved in this case. But from other litigation, it is clear the ACLU would seek to have this new Oklahoma law struck down in court.

Oklahoma passed a law with two types of provisions against illegal aliens in the state. It will penalize businesses which hire illegal aliens, with denials of licenses to operate for repeat offenses. It will also penalize owners of rental property who knowingly rent to illegal aliens.

Two tries before a federal court in Oklahoma produced a ruling by U.S. District Judge James H. Payne that “the plaintiffs had failed to produce enough evidence” to entitle them to a preliminary injunction against the new law. Note that this is the exact opposite result from the federal court decisions concerning Hazleton, Pennsylvania, and Framers Branch, Texas.

In both those city cases, the respective federal courts ruled that the cities did not have the constitutional power to act in this area, and struck the laws down. Had the federal court in Oklahoma taken the same approach, it would have struck down the new state law as facially invalid. In all three instances, the ordinances and the state law used definitions in federal law of who was, or was not, an illegal alien. So, the conclusions by unelected federal judges about what elected officials could do, should have been the same.

As the article notes, the Oklahoma statute “received bipartisan support from state lawmakers who expressed frustration with Congress’ inability to pass comprehensive immigration reform.” Pat Fennel, director of the Latino Community Development Agency in Oklahoma City, said, “So many Latinos have already left Oklahoma and many plan to do so, which is precisely what Randy Terrill [sponsor of the legislation] wanted — cleanse the state.”

The gist of this article is that all Hispanics, legal and illegal, will be harmed by this law. It does not explain how legal aliens, who have an established right to be in the United States, and may be working toward full citizenship, would be affected by the new law.

The article claims that thousands of legals and illegals are leaving Oklahoma. The reporter did not bother to research the prior history of efforts to deal with illegal immigration. The last President to work actively in this area was Dwight Eisenhower. He appointed a retired general to act in this area. He, in turn, started cracking down on employers who hired illegal aliens, and deporting the aliens themselves. But many more tens of thousands of aliens “self-deported” and returned to Mexico in response to this change of attitudes, than were directly affected by either the actions against employers or the individual deportations together,

In short, Oklahoma has just provided to the Congress and the other states an example of a law that is so clear and so effective that it is self-enforcing. People get the word of the provisions of the law, and they act. In this case, however, they are self-deporting to other states with lax laws, rather than back to Mexico.

The federal judge in this case has also provided (for now, this was the denial of a preliminary injunction) an example to judges across the country. It is this: it is the business of elected representatives to act for the welfare of the citizens in their cities or states. It is not the business of unelected judges to second guess those decisions of the legislators.

Source for original story on the Net:




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