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Oklahoma lawmakers want tougher immigration law

By SEAN MURPHY, Associated Press Writer Modified: April 29, 2010 at 6:53 pm •  Published: April 29, 2010
Not to be outdone by Arizona, a group of conservative lawmakers in Oklahoma said Thursday they plan to introduce a bill similar to that state's new law directing police to question people about their immigration status if there is reason to suspect they are illegal.

That drew immediate criticism from several civil rights groups in Oklahoma that said the proposal will encourage racial profiling.

State Rep. Randy Terrill, a harsh critic of illegal immigration, said there are several bills that could be amended to insert the new language. Besides the Arizona language, Terrill, R-Moore, said the Oklahoma bill likely will include asset seizure and forfeiture provisions for immigration-related crimes and harsher penalties for illegal aliens caught with guns.

"Oklahoma and Arizona have always been the two states at the forefront of illegal immigration legislation," said Terrill, the author of a 2007 omnibus anti-immigration bill, a portion of which remains tied up in court on a legal challenge. "They are now in the No. 1 position.

"But the session's not over yet."

Arizona's law, which also makes it a state crime to be in the U.S. illegally, has sparked a national controversy, and two lawsuits have been filed challenging it. President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder have criticized the law, and Holder said the federal government may sue.

Terrill also acknowledged that he is researching the possibility of outlawing birthright citizenship, which he described as the "holy grail of illegal immigration." Birthright citizenship, authorized under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, guarantees that anyone born in the country is a citizen, regardless of whether the parents are illegal aliens.

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