Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Oklahoma Aims To Deport Its Illegal Immigrants Back To Texas

As the U.S. Senate gets set for a key procedural vote on proposed federal immigration reforms backed by the Bush administration, some localities, and even states, have taken matters into their own hands. So, here's what they're doing in Oklahoma.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports:

While a stack of anti-illegal immigration bills died in the Texas Legislature this year, Oklahoma lawmakers passed a law that cuts off illegal immigrants' access to driver's licenses and many government benefits.

"The state ought not to be in the business of providing benefits to people who are not here legally," said Oklahoma Rep. Randy Terrill, the Republican who wrote the bill. ...

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, more than 1,000 immigration-related bills and resolutions have been filed in the 50 states. Some Texas cities have passed anti-illegal immigration ordinances.

Oklahoma's House Bill 1804, signed by the governor in May, is considered one of the toughest immigration laws in the nation. Among other things, it will:

-- End illegal immigrants' access to state benefits, including college scholarships.

-- Empower law enforcement officers to check the immigration status of people they arrest for felonies and drunken driving.

-- Consider illegal immigrants charged with felonies and some other crimes a flight risk and deny them bail.

-- Allow fired workers to sue if their former employers have an illegal immigrant doing the same or similar work.

Will a tough law in Oklahoma push illegal immigrants into Texas?

"Boy, I sure hope so," Terrill said.

Terrill may have figured out a way to make Texas an illegal immigrants' preferred zone, as if it weren't already.

Having worked in Oklahoma for a year or so as a young man, I can understand why. The first time I tried to buy a six-pack of real beer in that state (they commonly sell the 3.2% stuff -- not real), the store clerk informed me very sternly, "You're gonna haveta keep yore nose real clean up here. ..." I damn near got a temperance lecture. In Oklahoma, we're not just talking red state -- it's more like maroon. In Ardmore, I saw a sign in a souvenir shop that read, "Freedom is not the right to do as you please, but the liberty to do as you ought."

So, yeah, I can see how even in a state like Texas, the climate for an illegal immigrant would be more hospitable. Until you get to Farmers Branch.

This from November on FOXNews.com (I know, I know; but bear with me, it's a concise summary):

FARMERS BRANCH, Texas — This Dallas suburb became the first Texas city to pass tough anti-immigration measures, prompting fears they could lead to sanctioned discrimination and racism.

City Council members unanimously approved fines for landlords who rent to illegal immigrants, making English the city's official language and allowing local authorities to screen suspects in police custody to check their immigration status.

The council made the series of 6-0 votes without discussion Monday night and took comment from the public afterward. A proposal to penalize businesses that employ undocumented workers was not voted on during the meeting.

Hundreds of opponents of the ordinances gathered in the City Hall lobby and a parking lot outside, waving American flags and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in English before the votes were taken.

Inside, supporters clapped as the votes were tallied in favor of the measures and later thanked council members for their action.

In the absence of meaningful federal action on this issue, Americans in states on or near the Mexican border seem to be moving toward a kind of draconian zoning of illegal immigration.

But this kind of state and local action isn't moving us toward a real solution to a most vexing problem.

For those of us who have encountered numerous illegal immigrants in person and can see that they have human faces, it's very troubling. I haven't gotten the impression that most of them really want to be here. It must be frightening to face a strange foreign culture, to fear deportation, to face the indignities that they surely deal with almost daily. Makes you wonder why they would have undertaken such a dangerous journey to get up here so they could have the privilege of being a janitor for minimum wage.

This is a rare instance in which I agree with Il Doofus on one thing: The status quo is unacceptable. There are about 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. It's unrealistic to think our government can round up and deport as many as one-third of them.

And yet, this can't go on. The much publicized Borjas-Katz study does illustrate the effect of the influx on working-class Americans' wages; and countless school systems, charity hospitals and social-services agencies are being stressed to the limit.

In frustration, officials in states and localities are acting on their own. But the effect will simply be to make the resourceful undocumented population work around the zoning. Don't underestimate them. They will figure it out in a hurry. And then the officials where the zoning is done will become engulfed in legal battles. More from FOXNews.com:

Attorneys with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, a civil rights advocacy group, told (Farmers Branch) council members before the vote that the proposals could violate federal housing laws preventing discrimination and the First Amendment.

This is a complex and heartbreaking problem that involves millions of real people -- families. I have seen firsthand that these folks, the desperate immigrants, are more often pawns than villains.

As paralyzed as the Congress seems to be on this issue, it's better to wait for a federal solution to this problem. State and local action will just make the immigrants go to the next city, and clutter the court dockets with lawsuits.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.