Court: Oklahoma cannot enforce some HB1804 provisions
BY ROBERT BOCZKIEWICZ World Correspondent
Tuesday, February 02, 2010
2/02/10 at 5:54 PM
Document: Read the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling.
Read House Bill 1804 : The bill was scheduled to become law on Nov. 1, 2007. It makes it illegal to knowingly transport illegal aliens, and creates barriers to hiring illegal aliens. It also requires state contractors to check the immigration status of workers and requires proof of citizenship for those applying for certain government benefits.
Read all of the Tulsa World’s coverage of House Bill 1804.
DENVER -- An appeals court ruled Tuesday that Oklahoma cannot enforce two employment provisions in House Bill 1804, the state's immigration control law, but allowed a third employment part of the law to be enforced.
The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals 3-0 upheld a preliminary injunction against provisions that:
Prohibit firing of workers legally in the country while retaining
workers illegally in the country.
Require businesses that contract with individual private contractors to obtain documentation that the individuals are authorized to work or, without documentation, withhold taxes at the top rate.
The court's action on those two provisions means they will not be enforced, pending further legal action.
The court overturned a preliminary injunction against
enforcement of a third part of the law. That portion requires employers
to use a federal computer system to verify eligibility of job seekers. The provision only affects businesses that contract with government entities for physical performance of services, such as building roads or bridges.
The court's action on that part of law means it will go into effect, though it is unclear when.
House Bill 1804, known as the Oklahoma Taxpayer and City Protection Act of 2007, is one of numerous laws that states have enacted in recent years to regulate illegal immigration and verification of employment eligibility.
The decision of the Denver-based court sided with various business
interests -- including national, state and local chambers of commerce -- in concluding that the first two provisions are preempted by federal law.
U.S. District Judge Robin Cauthron in Oklahoma City issued the preliminary injunction in June 2008 against all three employment provisions of the law.
The court battle attracted national attention because of the implications the case has for other states.
The judges said the two provisions that can not now be enforced are likely to be held unconstitutional.
The Oklahoma attorney's general's office, which represented the state in court in defending the provisions, had no immediate comment on Tuesday's decision.
"Our attorneys are reviewing the ruling" and preparing for issues regarding a permanent injunction, spokesman Charlie Price said. He said no schedule has been set for when Cauthron will have hearings regarding a permanent injunction or other aspects of the case.
An assistant attorney general told the judges at an earlier stage of the case that Oklahoma legislators had the authority to pass the provisions to protect "the taxpayers and legal residents of Oklahoma from suffering the adverse effects of illegal aliens."
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce took the lead in the court battles.
"If forced to comply with the Oklahoma Act, the Chamber's members will face a significant risk of suffering financial harm," the judges concluded in barring enforcement of the first two provisions.
Other organizations that sued to stop enforcement of the three employment provisions were the state chamber of commerce, the Oklahoma City and Tulsa chambers, and restaurant and hotel associations in Oklahoma.
The U.S. Chamber did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
Unlike the Oklahoma law, Congress has not made use of the computerized verification system, known as "E-Verify," mandatory for employers.
Daisy Haro of Tulsa, holds up one of many signs against HB 1804 during a candlelight vigil and protest outside of City Hall in October 2007. CORY YOUNG/ Tulsa World File
In this October 2007 file photo, several signs against HB 1804, flew at the plaza level of Tulsa City Hall. CORY YOUNG/ Tulsa World File