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Oklahoma State Senate
Communications Division
State Capitol
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105

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For Immediate Release: April 3, 2007

Senator James A. Williamson
Senator James A. Williamson

Senate Committee Approves Illegal Immigration Bill

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted on Tuesday in favor of legislation aimed at protecting the jobs of U.S. citizens. The measure also contains provisions to ensure taxpayer supported benefits are made available to American citizens and legal immigrants only. Sen. James A. Williamson is the Senate author of House Bill 1804, “The Oklahoma Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act of 2007.” He said the people of Oklahoma are extremely concerned about the issue of illegal immigration.

“They are frustrated beyond any level that you can imagine, because they have seen that the federal government is not taking on this issue—they’re not dealing with it in any way that’s responsible, and so they want us to do what we can,” said Williamson, R-Tulsa.

Williamson said two issues bring illegal immigrants to Oklahoma—public benefits and employment. The lawmaker said his legislation addresses both.

“With only specific exceptions, such as medical emergencies, this legislation assures taxpayers that their publicly funded benefits will not go to illegal immigrants,” Williamson said. “We also have language protecting U.S. citizens who have lost a job to an illegal immigrant.”

Should an employer release a U.S. citizen while retaining an illegal immigrant, the citizen could file a discriminatory practice claim and seek to have both his job and back wages restored. Businesses contracting with state agencies that do not use an online program to verify the immigration status of employees would forfeit the ability to do business with the state.

“We also have mirrored all federal statutes dealing with knowingly transporting and harboring illegal immigrants,” Williamson said. “This ensures we can enforce these felony violations at the state level.”
One change to HB 1804 made by Sen. Williamson deals with state law on in-state tuition for the children of immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for at least two years and graduated from an Oklahoma high school.

“Under current law, those students can receive in-state tuition as long as they are in the process of becoming citizens. Rather than repeal that provision, we have simply tightened it up to make sure they are indeed taking steps to become citizens,” Williamson said. “Students currently in college would be grandfathered in under the current statute.”

The next step for HB 1804 will be a vote by the full Senate.

For more information contact:
Senator Williamson's Office: (405) 521-5624

Inon: Horizontal Blue Band

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