A project of the Center for Community Change

Oklahoma ponders: Is rabid anti-migration law even enforceable?

House Bill 1804 was passed by the Oklahoma state legislature a few months ago, now five of those very same legislators are asking for an attorney general’s opinion as to whether the law is enforceable. There has been widespread confusion as to whether the bill conflicts with federal immigration law.

[Representative] Nations said he endorsed the request because “it’s almost impossible” to have a civil conversation about immigration.

“I think that a law of this sort, this approach, is punitive and not well thought out,” he said. “It’s reactionary. This is a complicated problem that needs to have a better solution. It’s frustrating, because the abililty to have moderates sit down in a room and use common sense and come up with a workable solution is very limited.”

Clearly certain legislators who passed the initial bill put the cart before the horse. This is a badly written bill that has caused confusion and done little to improve Oklahoma. Anti-immigrants rush to pass legislation that sounds “good” and bolsters their political agenda, but this law just shows that they put very little thought into the implementation and real world implications of these laws. [please turn to page 63 under Hazelton]

Nations said lawmakers asked Edmondson 21 questions about the immigration law, including:

Can public and private elementary and secondary schools “deny issuance of identification cards to students who are not U.S. citizens, nationals, lawful permanent residents?”

Does “categorization of immigrants for the purpose of eligibility for school identification” constitute a state-imposed regulation of immigration?

Can state officials, including judges “rely on a defendant’s current lack of immigration status to infer that he or she was not lawfully admitted to the United States?”

Do full due process protections, including the right to counsel, apply to proceedings?

“We need solutions,” Nations said, “and solutions are not coming from Washington, D.C.”

Well, he got that one right. It will be interesting to see what answers the Attorney General will make for this state- hopefully it will include a warning to other states: look before you leap into fearmongering and scapegoating migrants with poorly planned legislation.

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