Following the infamous example of Arizona, the State of Oklahoma has passed a bill that allows local law enforcement officials to inquire about an individual’s immigration status with or without cause to do so.
The State House voted 85 to 7 in favor of the bill, regardless of concerns from some who felt the bill did not go quite far enough.
The bill toughens penalties for human smuggling and gives law enforcement the ability to seize property allegedly used to harbor or transport illegal immigrants. In addition, it grants state and local law enforcement the right to inquire about an individual’s immigration status.
“My goal is for this bill to focus on public safety,” Republican State Rep. George Faught, who co-chairs a joint House and Senate committee responsible for developing the anti-illegal immigration bill, told Fox News.
Some however felt the bill was too weak. State Rep. Randy Terrill felt more needed to be included in the legislation to clamp down on businesses which hire illegal immigrants. He argued the bill was ‘watered-down’ and a “sellout.”
Opponents of the bill fear many illegal imminent will not become victims of further crimes, including human trafficking, and be afraid to report the incidents because they fear deportation.
“You are taking an entire segment of the population of this state and putting them outside the protection of the law,” Rep. Rebecca Hamilton, a Democrat from Oklahoma City told Fox News. “You’re making it impossible for the victim to go to the police.”
The bill now heads to the State Senate for approval, if passed it will become state law. The Senate is already working on its own anti-immigration bill. It is likely both bills will be rewritten into one and voted on again in the future.