Federal judge blocks portion of anti-immigration law

Wednesday, June 4th 2008, 11:42 pm
By: News 9

By Stacey Cameron, NEWS 9

Oklahoma's tough anti-immigration law took a hit in federal court Wednesday.

A federal judge is blocking part of the law requiring businesses to make sure new employees are in the U.S. legally.

The judge ruling says Oklahoma's law likely violates the Constitution.

A restaurant owner and an American citizen, Marcelino Garcia's life wasn't always this way.

Almost 30 years ago - looking for something better in life - Garcia came to the U.S. from Mexico illegally. Garcia may not seem like a person who'd support immigration reform, but he does.

"We have to have laws, any country has to have laws," Marcelino Garcia, owner of Chelino's Restaurant said.

Serving his opinion on immigration law along with the food - Garcia makes his point simple. The government needs to fix it. But it's not the state's job.

"I feel like this is a federal issue," Garcia said.

Now a federal judge appears to agree with Garcia. In a 17 page opinion - Judge Robin Cauthron ruled there is a ‘substantial likelihood' Oklahoma's anti-immigration law is unconstitutional.

"My initial reaction is one of disappointment, but not surprise," State Representative Randy Terrill said.

Terrill introduced the controversial law known as House Bill 1804. With Judge Cauthron now blocking part of his bill - Terrill's taking a shot at the judge, saying Cauthron's opinion is based in politics, not the law.

"She is perhaps the most liberal judge in the western district of Oklahoma," Terrill said.

Despite his use of language like ‘slave labor' and ‘illegal aliens' in an election year - Terrill denies that he's using immigration as a political tool.

"To suggest I am a Johnny Come Lately to his issue is false," Terrill said.

Working back at his restaurant, Garcia knows politicians are going to talk about illegal immigration.

"I know they are going to do something about it," Garcia said.

He does hope, however, federal politicians act on the issue, not Oklahoma.

Related Story: Reality of HB 1804 revealed