The Oklahoma Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act: Blowing Off Steam or Setting Wildfires?
71 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2009 Last revised: 12 Jul 2010
Date Written: October 6, 2008
This article considers Oklahoma’s recent experiment in immigration regulation and examines how it is that Oklahoma has found itself on the front lines of the illegal immigration debate. The article begins with a discussion of the rich history of immigration to and immigrants in Oklahoma. It then attempts to unpack the evolution of Oklahoma’s illegal immigration crisis and understand the genesis and the impacts of the state’s comprehensive but perhaps exaggerated response to the perceived crisis. Finally, using Oklahoma’s experience as an example, the article argues that a “steam valve” model of immigration federalism is no longer an apt description of sub-federal immigration lawmaking. Rather than allowing states to blow off their anti-immigrant steam, this article argues that allowing individual states to enact immigration control measures locally provides a dangerous mechanism for national anti-immigrant groups to accomplish through a state-by-state lobbying effort what they have been unable to achieve at the national level. Instead of acting as a steam valve, H.B. 1804 provides the match to ignite a growing wildfire of restrictive state legislation that puts pressure on the immigrant community and the federal legislature at the same time.
Keywords: immigration, federalism, local enforcement, 287(g)
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