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

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For Immediate Release: April 16, 2007

Senator James A. Williamson
Senator James A. Williamson

Full Senate Approves Illegal Immigration Bill

On Monday, the evenly divided Oklahoma Senate passed a bipartisan immigration reform bill by a 41 to 6 vote. If the House of Representatives accepts the Senate’s amendments to House Bill 1804, the legislation could be on Gov. Brad Henry’s desk by the end of the week.

Sen. James A. Williamson is the Senate author of HB 1804, “The Oklahoma Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act of 2007.” He said the bill is designed to protect jobs for citizens as well as addressing concerns about taxpayer supported benefits.

“The failure of the federal government to address the problem of illegal immigration has brought this issue before us,” said Williamson, R-Tulsa. “HB 1804 represents our effort to deal with the areas we can through legislation at the state level.”

The bill would prevent illegal immigrants from taking advantage of taxpayer funded services except in cases such as a medical emergency or natural disaster. The legislation also includes language that mirrors federal law on transporting or hiding illegal immigrants. That language would give state law enforcement the authority to take action in such cases.

Williamson said the bill addresses another area of concern for Oklahomans—protecting the jobs of American citizens.

“Under this bill, if an employer releases 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,” Williamson said. “In addition, 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. Businesses acting in good faith to verify status would be protected against liability.”

Children of immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for at least two years and graduated from an Oklahoma high school would still be eligible for in-state college tuition under the legislation, but the bill includes provisions to ensure those students are taking steps to become citizens. Students currently in college would not fall under the new provisions.

Williamson said the legislation now goes back to the House for consideration of Senate amendments.
“I believe this is a fair, even-handed approach to problems Oklahoma is facing as a result of illegal immigration,” Williamson said. “It is my sincere hope that when this reaches Governor Henry’s desk, he will sign HB 1804 into law.”

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

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