(Check out DocHoc’s views on state education funding in this week’s Oklahoma Gazette.)
Here comes “Arizona-Plus.”
Oklahoma and state Rep. Randy Terrill made national news recently when The Washington Post reported on Terrill’s plans to introduce next session anti-illegal immigration legislation even more stringent than the controversial Arizona measure.
The federal government has filed a lawsuit against the Arizona law, which has drawn widespread criticism for condoning racial profiling. The suit argues the Arizona law usurps federal authority.
Undoubtedly, the lawsuit will not deter Terrill, who currently faces a political corruption investigation by Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater. Terrill has been the leading anti-illegal immigration voice in Oklahoma, sponsoring the draconian House Bill 1804 in 2007, hailed at the time as the toughest state law yet cracking down on illegal immigration.
As The Post article, which points out Oklahoma, South Carolina and Utah will soon consider legislation similar to Arizona’s anti-illegal immigration law, notes:
In 2007, Oklahoma led the way on such laws by adopting legislation that makes it a felony to knowingly transport or shelter an illegal immigrant. It also blocked illegal immigrants from obtaining driver’s licenses and in-state tuition.
According to The Post, Terrill wants to up the ante of the Arizona law by including a provision that would allow the government to seize assets of companies that knowingly hire illegal immigrants. The Arizona law requires people carry immigration documents and allows police to make people prove they are in the country legally.
A majority of Oklahomans will no doubt support Terrill’s efforts, but that doesn’t mean such legislation doesn’t have a negative economic impact and sullies the state’s image as a place of intolerance. After Arizona passed its law, it faced boycotts. Oklahoma just can’t afford economic boycotts. The last thing the state needs to do is further isolate itself.
In the article, Terrill makes the point that the recent arrest here of an alleged Mexican drug cartel member who is allegedly from Arizona just proves that the state needs to get even tougher. He argues Arizona’s illegal immigrants will end up here if the state doesn’t do something.
But besides this arrest, there’s no other evidence that Oklahoma is getting flooded with illegal immigrants because of the Arizona law.
Meanwhile, law-and-order Republicans want the law enforced and big-business Republicans want a cheap labor pool. Union Democrats don’t want illegal immigrants to undercut their wages and other Democrats see the problem rooted in Mexico’s poverty level and feel compassion for people simply seeking menial labor jobs in order to survive.
Illegal immigration is a problem in this country, but it’s a federal issue. The way to solve it is to demand Congress and the president do something about it. Oklahoma has no business being out front on this issue. The state needs growth, and it should present itself as a welcoming place. Does that mean the state should encourage illegal immigration? Absolutely not. But the state shouldn’t situate itself as intolerant either.