Monday, December 10, 2007

Immigration Reform Part 2

Immigration Reform Part 2

One concern I recently heard about from District 31 has been that of the attempt to reverse last year's successes in implementing immigration reform.

When the Governor signed House Bill 1804 earlier this year, it appeared as if most of the debate surrounding illegal immigration would come to a close. However, in the last few weeks, it has become obvious that this is not the case and the issue will again be significant in the upcoming legislative session.

Known as the Oklahoma Taxpayer and Citizens Act, HB 1804 provided a clear series of reforms to the illegal immigration problem and made Oklahoma the leader in the application of immigration reform.

Key elements of the bill focused on determining work eligibility and encouraging employers to verify legal work status. The bill contained provisions to ensure taxpayer-supported benefits are made available to American citizens and legal immigrants only and gave state and local law enforcement officials the power to enforce federal immigration law – as well as restricting access by illegal aliens to driver’s licenses and ID cards.

The author of the bill, Randy Terrill, has indicated he will follow up 1804 with a bill he is calling the "son of HB 1804.” It would make English the official language in Oklahoma, document how many illegal immigrants attend taxpayer funded schools and provide disincentive for those who come to the United States illegally in order to insure citizenship for their children. Terrill would like to see the state able to refuse to issue birth certificates for these individuals, instead forcing them to request them from the consulate of the parents' nation of origin. The "son of 1804" would provide financial incentives to local law enforcement agencies to send officers to federal immigration training. Terrill also wants a bill that would reverse the recent creation of a permanent and unconditional expansion of the welfare system by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, which voted to approve emergency rules granting taxpayer-subsidized medical coverage to pregnant illegal aliens on the theory that the new child will be a U.S. citizen. Up until now, illegal aliens were prohibited from Medicaid prenatal services.

Those who have come to depend on illegal immigrant employees have made it clear that they intend not only to oppose new reforms but to try to reverse some of them.

The State Chamber of Commerce released their 2007 legislative platform in which they indicated opposition to additional reforms. Governor Brad Henry signed off on the above mentioned expansion of the welfare system for illegal immigrants and a member of the Oklahoma Senate has announced that he will attempt to roll back certain provisions of 1804.

There is no doubt that advocates who wish to stop reform and maintain the current status quo have deep pockets and will be willing to spend large amounts of money to get their way.

Even so, I am confident there are enough members of the House of Representatives committed to defeating attempts to roll back reforms already passed into law. I am hopeful that future common sense reforms will also be passed and am especially committed to the reform of making English the official language of the State of Oklahoma.

If you would like to visit with Rep. Terrill in person, you will soon have that opportunity. He has agreed to attend one of the House District 31 upcoming "Town Hall" meetings. For more information about these meetings, please visit or you may call my office at 557-7350.

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