Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry Tuesday reluctantly signed a strict immigration reform bill meant to discourage illegal immigration. The Oklahoma Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act of 2007 denies illegal immigrants state identification, and requires all state and local agencies to verify citizenship status of applicants before authorizing benefits. The law also require public employers to enter job applicants into an electronic immigration database to verify legal status. Henry said, however, that the new law would do little to curb illegal immigration and that the real responsibility to deal withe issue lay with the federal government. The State House approved the bill 84-14 last month.
Supporters praised the bill as a way to save taxpayer money, but immigrant groups criticized it for saddling Latinos with new discriminatory barriers in housing and jobs. The League of United Latin American Citizens and other advocacy groups have said they may challenge the law's constitutionality because immigration policy is the responsibility of the federal government, not the state.