An Oklahoma law that went into effect on November 1, 2007 has resulted in a large amount of immigrants leaving that state. The law, which makes it a felony to harbor, transport or provide aid to an illegal immigrant, has caused an increased level of fear in Oklahoma’s Hispanic community and has had deleterious effects on that state’s construction industry. Many building companies have voiced their concerns over a lack of available workers and are considering a lawsuit against the state’s restrictive measure.
The Oklahoma law is a precursor to a similar Arizonan legislation that went into effect January 1, in which employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants could lose their operating licenses.
State legislators throughout the country are watching both of these states closely as they plan their own potential legislations. At the same time, immigration advocates are paying close attention to strategies used by opponents to these laws — their successes and their failures — as they gear up to protect undocumented workers throughout the U.S.