Monday, May 14, 2007

New Immigrant Law Could Make Felons of Church People

Rep. Randy Terrill, Moore, prime mover of Oklahoma's new anti-immigrant legislation, may have created a new class of felons, the Tulsa World reports in today's edition.

Thanks to its sweeping language, the new law could make it illegal for church bus drivers to transport illegal aliens to Sunday services. That's a fear World reporter Leigh Bell found when she talked to a driver for Southern Hill Baptist Church, which picks up worshippers every Sunday.

The law makes it illegal to knowingly transport illegal workers in many cases, the newspaper noted, which could include the Sunday pick-ups. Rep. Terrill doesn't think so. He told the newspaper that the law is concerned with reason and won't be applied to church transportation.

Terrill may be right. Fear of the new law, Terrell told the World, is "irrational." But the fact that these questions are arising may indicate a few of the law's unintended consequences, some of which may turn out to be serious.

This confusion highlights another form of irrationality: the popular fear that every Hispanic person in Oklahoma is an illegal who is here to steal our jobs, avoid taxes, get free health care, and speak Spanish, and thereby destroy the (white, Protestant) American way of life.

Despite the overheated rhetoric on the right, that's not quite the case. And it simplifies a host of complicated problems, which is a major reason we haven't been able to solve the problem for lo these many years.

We're not condoning illegal immigration. We are pointing out the fact that Rep. Terrill's new law is unlikely to solve the problem anytime soon and, in same cases, it may make the problem worse by driving the illegals and their employers deeper into the underground economy.

That's unlikely to help anyone except unscrupulous business owners, hardly the sort of folks Rep. Terrill wants to assist.


Gerald Buckley said...

I'm a "church people" and GOOD! Illegal is illegal! Black and white. When in Rome do as the Romans do and all that.

Lookit! We have a massive problem in the central and southern U.S. There is a proper and legal way to enter this country. Some of my non-Cherokee ancestors came over and followed the rules doing so.

Only until we make this a punitive deal with serious and enforced teeth will it begin to sink in... "Oh, they really don't want me here illegally. OK, got it."

Alternative Tulsa said...

Gerald: Thanks for your comment. As we said, we don't condone illegal immigration. But we also do think it is improper and unwise to make felons out of people who are driving illegals to church. First, church drivers have no way of knowing who is legal and who is not. Second, driving people to church would appear to be a helpful activity, not one intended or likely to produce anti-social outcomes.