Democrats and Republicans in the House of Representatives joined together Tuesday to reject by a 2-1 margin an anti-illegal immigration bill.
Republicans mostly complained it was a watered-
The House voted 62-31 to reject a conference report on the latest version of House Bill 1446, which is the only anti-illegal immigration measure left alive this session.
The measure's author, Rep. George Faught, R-Muskogee, made a motion to table the bill, a move that would keep the measure alive so it could be brought up again next year.
Is this the bill's end?
Faught said HB 1446 won't be brought up again this session, which could end as soon as Friday.
“It won't be heard,” he said. “It is disappointing because it was obviously misinterpreted.”
The bill's defeat is a blow to Republican legislative leaders who formed a special joint committee on immigration to develop legislation. Bills intended to mirror strict anti-
It's vindication for Rep. Randy Terrill, R-Moore, who debated against the measure. Terrill, the author of the state's anti-
Rep. Eric Proctor, D-Tulsa, said HB 1446 failed to go after employers who hired illegal immigrants.
Rep. John Bennett, R-Sallisaw, said the measure didn't give local law enforcement officers the ability to enforce whether immigrants are legally in the state. He said law officers in southeastern Oklahoma could arrest 200 illegal immigrants a day, but it's pointless because the counties have no money to hold them in jails.
“We've got to go after the employers,” Bennett said. “This bill's not going to fix anything.”
Bill was toned down
HB 1446 is toned down from earlier versions, which included portions of an anti-illegal immigration law passed last year in Arizona. Also gone from the bill are provisions that bar children of illegal immigrants from receiving tuition assistance for postsecondary education, allow state agencies to report illegal immigrants who apply for state or federal aid, and require employers to verify the immigration status of potential employees. Additional deletions included outlawing the practice of illegal immigrants seeking work as independent contractors, and making it a crime to pick up illegal immigrants for the purpose of employing them.
Faught, co-chairman of the special joint legislative committee to develop immigration bills, said his measure targeted human smugglers and others who prey on illegal immigrants.
HB 1446 would have authorized state and local law enforcement officers to recommend illegal immigrants for certain types of three-year visas if they report and aid in the investigation of illegal criminal activity.
Proctor said voting for the measure would be “a yes vote for amnesty.”
HB 1446 also would have allowed the seizure of vehicles used to smuggle people.
Rep. Rebecca Hamilton, D-Oklahoma City, said constituents in her district were mostly terrified of the measure. She said the measure looks good on campaign material for legislators wanting to say they voted to crack down on illegal immigration, but significant legislation would go after employers who draw illegal immigrants to the state by offering them jobs.
“If you want sincerely to do something about the problem of immigration ... then you have to take care of the causes of it,” she said. “You have to deal with the engine that's driving them” to
‘A federal issue'
Rep. Richard Morrissette, D-Oklahoma City, urged members to vote down the bill, arguing that if it became law it would draw a costly legal
“It's flawed, it's not fair, it's unjust,” Morrissette said. “Immigration is a federal issue.”
Terrill called the measure a “do-nothing bill.”
“This is a sham bill,” he said. “It is window dressing that is designed to convince the public that we have done something meaningful about illegal immigration when actually we have not.”