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An Oklahoma State House of Representatives committee approved a strict immigration bill on Wednesday for a full vote in the Oklahoma House. The Oklahoma Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act of 2007 seeks to prevent illegal immigrants from obtaining state identification, and would require all state and local agencies to verify citizenship status of applicants before authorizing benefits. The bill would also require public employers to enter job applicants into an electronic immigration database to verify legal status, and would repeal a 2003 law that permits illegal immigrants to attend state colleges at in-state tuition levels. The proposed bill states in part:

The State of Oklahoma finds that illegal immigration is causing economic hardship and lawlessness in this state and that illegal immigration is encouraged by public agencies within this state that provide public benefits without verifying immigration status. The State of Oklahoma further finds that illegal immigrants have been harbored and sheltered in this state and encouraged to reside in this state through the issuance of identification cards that are issued without verifying immigration status, and that these practices impede and obstruct the enforcement of federal immigration law, undermine the security of our borders, and impermissibly restrict the privileges and immunities of the citizens of Oklahoma. Therefore, the people of the State of Oklahoma declare that it is a compelling public interest of this state to discourage illegal immigration by requiring all agencies within this state to fully cooperate with federal immigration authorities in the enforcement of federal immigration laws.

The bill, considered one of the toughest illegal immigration measures in the country, is expected to pass easily in the state House of Representatives. The proposal would also have to be passed in the state Senate before going to the governor for approval.

The Oklahoma legislature is also now considering the Oklahoma English Language Act, which would require all official business of the state to be conducted in English, with exceptions.


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