U.S. Chamber of Commerce Attacks Oklahomans’ Demand for Rule of Law
U.S. Chamber fights 1804
It’s joined other associations suing Oklahoma over the immigration reform law.
OKLAHOMA CITY — The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has joined forces with the Oklahoma City and Tulsa chambers to sue the state over its immigration reform law.
The U.S. Chamber filed for an injunction Friday in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma.
The lawsuit targets specific aspects of House Bill 1804. Among other things, the new law creates state barriers to hiring illegal immigrants, requires proof of citizenship to receive certain government benefits and makes it illegal to knowingly transport illegal immigrants.
Through the injunction, the U.S. Chamber is seeking to stop the implementation of two sections of the measure.
The lawsuit challenges a requirement that employers doing business with the state use the federal government’s voluntary experimental program for verifying work eligibility.
It also challenges require ments for businesses to verify the work authorization status of individual independent contractors to avoid state tax penalties.
The injunction alleges that the challenged sections of the law are pre-empted by federal law and are unconstitutional under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
In a prepared statement, the U.S. Chamber said: “The organizations supporting the in junction explained that the lawsuit focuses on those provisions of HB 1804 which impose unreasonable burdens on Oklahoma businesses and puts them at a disadvantage compared to competitors in other states, and that HB 1804 puts businesses in the impossible position of having to comply with conflicting federal and state laws.”
The primary author of HB 1804 said the lawsuit is a poor attempt at changing state law.
“This is just another in a long series of attempts by the pro-illegal alien lobby and their allies who rely on cheap illegal labor and who try to accomplish through the judicial system what they were unable to do through the Legislature,” said Randy Terrill, R-Moore.
“Their moral dilemma is that they are in the position of supporting the functional equivalent of modern-day slavery.”
The organizations supporting the injunction noted that their participation in the lawsuit does not equate to support for illegal immigration.
Additionally, the U.S. Chamber and the other chambers narrowed the focus of their requested injunction because some aspects of 1804 appear to be acceptable.
“The Tulsa region is outpacing the rest of the nation in job growth,” said Mike Neal, president and CEO of the Tulsa Metro Chamber. “Oklahoma’s HB 1804 requires our businesses to police immigration issues through an erroneous system, reduces the pool of legal workers and harms the ability of Oklahoma businesses to grow.”
The defendants in the injunction are Gov. Brad Henry, Attorney General Drew Ed mondson, members of the Oklahoma Human Rights Commission and members of the Oklahoma Tax Commission.
Charlie Price, spokesman for the attorney general, said: “It is the attorney general’s duty to defend the constitutionality of state statutes and we will do that in this case.”
Others joining the U.S. Chamber and the Oklahoma City and Tulsa chambers in the lawsuit are the Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce, Oklahoma Restaurant Association, and Oklahoma Hotel and Lodging Association.
Portions of HB 1804 went into effect in November, while other portions affecting private sector employers take effect in July.
The law has withstood two legal challenges in federal court in Tulsa and faces another filed in state district court.