LatinaLista — It's been the trend across the country for state legislators to stand behind their respective chamber podiums, declare they're doing the will of the people and proceed to create and pass laws aimed at making life so uncomfortable for undocumented immigrants that they will feel they have no other option but to leave the state.
What state legislators in Oklahoma didn't count on after passing such a punitive measure against the undocumented was that some citizens would be ready to drive them out of the state — if they could renew their licenses to do it.
Oklahoma legislators passed House Bill 1804, otherwise known as the Oklahoma Taxpayer and Citizenship Protection Act of 2007.
Among its many provisions aimed at rooting out the undocumented is one regarding driver's licenses. Obviously, undocumented immigrants are denied driving legally in the state. For some reason, legislators, and Oklahoma is not alone in this line of reasoning, think that the undocumented are going to stand in line in a public place with department of motor vehicle officers nearby and try to lie their way into getting a sanctioned mug shot.
Because of that, authors of the legislation were going to stay two steps ahead of the undocumented. They decided, within HB 1804, to issue new Oklahoma ID cards for every legal resident. Those Oklahomans who got their licenses on or after November 1 are good to go.
But woe to those whose licenses need to be renewed or are just applying for their first Oklahoma ID â€” the caca is only now hitting the fan.
As today's editorial in the Oklahoman laid out:
If legislators do nothing else during the session that begins next month, they must find a way to change a law that has been wreaking havoc on law-abiding citizens since it went into effect Nov. 1â€¦
Ask anyone who has inadvertently let their driver's license expire how much fun it was to get that taken care of. Legislators may not mind wasting three or four hours, or more, during a workday, but most hardworking Oklahomans do.
HB 1804 was aimed at cracking down on illegal immigrants. Instead, this portion of the law is creating unnecessary burdens for people who have lived here all their lives. Coming up with a fix must be a priority for lawmakers. In the meantime, check your license, or you may regret it.
Business leaders in the state are also on the attack. Though they opposed the bill to begin with, their agitation with its impact on the state is showing and their patience has worn out.
This week, the CEO of Devon Energy and the Chairman of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber began the discussion at the Chamber's 2008 Legislative Breakfast by asking legislators in attendance about the bill and reiterating that the business community does not support it.
A second part of HB 1804 that directly affects business hirings goes into effect on July 1. The business community already knows there will be problems.
One particular legislator who has taken up the crusade to drive out the illegally arrived, Randy Terrill, is even talking about a "son of HB 1804." Thankfully, some of his fellow Republicans have more sense and have seen the havoc the current bill is already creating in the state.
State Rep. Danny Morgan, D-Prague, confirmed some of the chamberâ€™s fears with anecdotes heâ€™s heard from business owners near the stateâ€™s border with Texas.
â€œI talked with a contractor this week from the Madill, Marietta, Ardmore area,â€ said Morgan, leader of the Democrat minority in the state House. â€œHeâ€™s lost a third of his work force to a contractor in Texas, who now comes back across the line with his former work force, works in Oklahoma, takes those dollars back to Texas, and his statement was, â€˜You canâ€™t come get me because your law only applies to an Oklahoma employer.â€™
There's no doubt that the local economy will be impacted by laws such as HB 1084.
A comment in response to the Oklahoma business leaders' story sheds some additional light:
Be careful to what you are asking for, it can smack you back into reality .
I live here in Arizona where the infamous sheriff of Maricopa county has the" Immigration Fever" and his politics is beginning to hurt in the county pocketbook.
The illegals that were trying to get a work release and come here to work in the low paying sector has been run away. Now the Unions are sending people in to get these jobs, but they want two thirds of a higher salary. Maricopa county is now in financial trouble.
What do we do?
It's a question that, unfortunately, won't be asked until it's too late.