Business leaders sue over immigration law

Tuesday, February 5th 2008, 6:18 pm
By: News 9

By Charles Bassett, NEWS 9

Oklahoma business leaders are suing the state over Oklahoma's new immigration law.

Several business groups filed a federal lawsuit that stated complying with the state law results in violating federal law.

The federal lawsuit was filed by the United States Chamber of Commerce, Oklahoma State Chamber, Oklahoma City and Tulsa Chambers, Oklahoma Restaurant Association and Oklahoma Hotel and Lodging Association.

Rep. Randy Terrill, the architect of the law, said the business groups took a neutral position on the bill before it became law and he finds their position now ironic. He's confident Oklahoma's law will stand.

"The truth of the matter is the reason they're objecting is that house bill 1804 is working," Terrill said. "We now have illegal aliens that are leaving the state of Oklahoma going back to their nation of origin; some though are moving into surrounding states."

State Senator Harry Coates voted against the law. He said changes are needed to the law and that's what the federal lawsuit is about.

"Now businesses in Oklahoma are seeing that this isn't good for our state, not good for our state's economy, not good for the business people in Oklahoma," Coates said.

Coates will introduce legislation this session to strike parts of the law, including a provision denying prenatal care for pregnant women here illegally and the section on harboring illegal immigrants. He admits getting support will be a challenge itself.

"Being an election year, no one wants to deal with it," Coates said. "They don't want to be tagged one way or the other on this thing as being soft on immigration issues."

Terrill now wants to strengthen the law, including making English the official language for anyone getting taxpayers services.

Filed Complaint [PDF]