A comment on House Bill 1804
From July 23, 2007
Governor Brad Henry signed House Bill 1804 on May 8, 2007. The new law, which goes into effect on November 1, 2007, is known as the “Oklahoma Taxpayer and Citizenship Protection Act of 2007.” The new law finds that illegal immigration is causing lawlessness and economic hardship in Oklahoma.
The first part of the new law creates a new felony crime, which is set out at Title 21 O.S. sec. 446. It states:
A. It shall be unlawful for any person to transport, move, or attempt to transport in the State of Oklahoma any alien knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that the alien has come to, entered, or remained in the United States in violation of law, in furtherance of the illegal presence of the alien in the United States.
B. It shall be unlawful for any person to conceal, harbor, or shelter from detection any alien in any place within the State of Oklahoma, including any building or means of transportation, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that the alien has come to, entered, or remained in the United States in violation of law.
C. Nothing in this section shall be construed so as to prohibit or restrict the provision of any state or local public benefit described in 8 U.S.C., Section 1621(b), or regulated public health services provided by a private charity using private funds.
D. Any person violating the provisions of subsections A or B of this section shall, upon conviction, be guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment in the custody of the Department of Corrections for not less than one (1) year, or by a fine of not less than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00), or by both such fine and imprisonment.
If you were a person who believed in good intentions, then you’d probably believe that the Oklahoma Legislature and the Governor intended for the new law to apply to those involved in “human smuggling.” Paragraph B, which addresses concealing, harboring, or sheltering from detection, seems to limit itself to this view. However, paragraph A seems to not contain any language limiting its scope to those who participate in a plan to conceal the status of an illegal alien. It seems to apply to anyone who might merely transport an illegal alien from one place to another rather than smugglers. This section doesn’t require actual knowledge but merely “reckless disregard” of a person’s immigration status. Will this require taxi drivers and bus drivers to question all those who possess certain skin pigments or certain speech patterns?
I’ve observed over the years that the Oklahoma legislature despite which party is in charge tends to be activist. And, that’s not a good thing as activists tend to look at things short term.