A judgment signed Wednesday by a federal judge upheld a block on two provisions in the Oklahoma Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act of 2007, ending a lengthy legal battle over an anti-illegal immigration law described by many as one of the harshest in the nation.
A third provision, which requires contractors working for public entities to use electronic employment authorization services such as E-Verify, was upheld in the judgment.
One of the provisions permanently blocked by the judgment would have allowed civil penalties for “any employer who discharges an authorized employee while retaining an unauthorized employee,” court records show.
The other would have required businesses to verify that all “individual independent contractors” had legitimate authorization statuses before hiring them.
The provisions were challenged by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other pro-business groups shortly after the anti-illegal immigration law was passed during the 2007 legislative session.
An agreement between the Chamber and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, which was filed Monday in federal court, essentially accepted a 2010 ruling by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Pruitt said the provision forcing contractors hired by public entities to verify their employment statuses electronically went into effect Wednesday when the judgment was signed by U.S. District Judge Robin Cauthron.
“This joint motion puts into place what the circuit court and U.S. Supreme Court already had decided on these issues,” Pruitt said. “We now can shift our focus to implementing and enforcing the law.”
The 2007 law made it a felony in Oklahoma to give a known undocumented immigrant a ride or to let one stay at your residence.
The second section of the law, which was written by former state Rep. Randy Terrill, among others, claims that illegal immigration in Oklahoma was playing a part in undermining “the security of our borders” and hindering the enforcement of federal immigration laws.
“The State of Oklahoma finds that illegal immigration is causing economic hardship and lawlessness in this state,” the law states, “and that illegal immigration is encouraged when public agencies within this state provide public benefits without verifying immigration status.”
CONTRIBUTING: The Associated Press