Thursday, June 5, 2008

Federal injunction (temporarily) blocks full enactment of H.B. 1804

I learned of this new development yesterday evening when a friend and local businessman, and a staunch advocate of illegal immigration restriction, called me on my cell to inform me and to vent his outrage. This individual and I attended the March 6 immigration seminar of which I wrote on May 18 together; it was there that we both learned of the then pending lawsuit filed on behalf of the State (and federal) Chambers of Commerce which is responsible for this new development. Indeed, the speaker (whose OKC based firm filed the original lawsuit on behalf of the State Chambers of Commerce) spoke rather glowingly about his firm's legal work in opposition to the new Oklahoma law, saying, in no uncertain terms, that the law is unconstitutional because it (1) violates federal immigration law, and (2) unfairly burdens Oklahoma business owners with an undue responsibility to enforce the provisions of H.B. 1804. As to the second claim, I just rolled my eyes in utter contempt that someone would be so presumptuous as to suggest that Oklahoma business persons have no responsibility to reasonably attempt to verify the employment status of their prospective employees, particularly those who they suspect are illegal. "Fact of the business", no such provision should even be necessary in a sane society, but the necessity of the provision, i.e., the insanity of our society, is made strikingly evident by the very strength of the opposition to it. However, as the first reason was given by the speaker in terms that I thought required an explanation, I did challenge him to defend that assertion in more particularity -- "On what basis is it that Oklahoma's law violates federal immigration law?" When he asked for clarification of my question, I put it to him in these terms: "Is the basis some sort of privacy issue, or is it simply that the language in Oklahoma's provisions doesn't match up to the language in the federal law, or what?" He answered that it was the latter; that the language in the respective laws differed, but he didn't elaborate further.

Notwithstanding all of that, the federal government has now injected itself into the dispute over Oklahoma's immigration law. Sections seven and nine of the law are now declared by the federal government to be, for all intents and purposes and until further notice from on high, unconstitutional:

By RON JENKINS, Associated Press Writer
Wed Jun 4, 6:24 PM ET

OKLAHOMA CITY - A federal judge on Wednesday blocked parts of an Oklahoma law targeting illegal immigration, saying the measures are probably unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Robin J. Cauthron issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting enforcement of provisions of the law that subject employers to penalties for failing to comply with a federal employee verification system.

The decision came on a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Oklahoma Chamber and other business groups, who argued that the electronic verification system is voluntary under federal law and that employers should not be subjected to state penalties.

"Through harsh civil penalties, the Oklahoma law unfairly shifts the burden of immigration enforcement from government onto the backs of business," Robin Conrad, executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber, said in statement.

The provisions in effect since November prohibit illegal immigrants from receiving tax-supported services and make it a state crime to transport or harbor illegal immigrants, a provision loudly criticized by social agencies that work with the immigrant population.

The state law took effect in November 2007, but the employer provisions under attack were set to take effect July 1.

Cauthron held that the plaintiffs would probably establish that the state measure pre-empted federal law on immigration.

Attorney General Drew Edmondson defended the law.

"We will attempt to overcome this hurdle when the matter is set for hearing on the permanent injunction," he said.

Rep. Randy Terrill, a Republican who introduced the legislation, predicted the case would be appealed if the plaintiffs prevail in their quest for a permanent injunction.

No hearing date has been set. (all emphases mine)

In closing, allow me to set the record straight. The inference that Oklahoma's law conflicts with federal law in that it "requires" businesses to register with the employment verification system is simply false. As I explained in this post, only if a company voluntarily enters into contractual agreement with a government entity to provide goods or services in exchange for payment, is the company in question "required" to register with E-Verify to confirm the employment status of all new hires. No company is under any obligation whatsoever to enter into such a contract, and therefore, by Oklahoma law, no company is under any obligation whatsoever to register with the E-Verify employment verification system. In other words, it's all voluntary and the complaint is bogus, always has been. But you know how it is; there are a bunch of well-to-do government welfare cases out there who couldn't maintain their elaborate and lavish lifestyles if the goverment didn't provide them a swollen teat to suck off of. To wean them off of it is simply unthinkable. The best we can do is to occasionally slap them on the forehead and painfully exclaim "don't bite!"