From the Chicago Tribune, via The Week magazine,
Oklahoma’s new law, which cuts off undocumented immigrants from most government programs and mandates felony charges against anyone who transports or shelters them, has emerged as Exhibit A in the struggle.
Three months after the law took effect Nov. 1, anecdotal indications are mounting that many of Oklahoma’s estimated 100,000 illegal immigrants have fled the state. But so are indications that the new law is triggering unforeseen consequences.
Catch that? “Unforseen consequences.” Wonder what they might be?
The splintered trees, downed branches and piles of wood still littering nearly every neighborhood of this sprawling city two months after a devastating ice storm stand as a testament to something more than the ferocity of nature.
The debris is also a sign of the effectiveness of Oklahoma’s new law intended to drive illegal immigrants out of the state — the strictest such statute in the nation.
The branches are still here, many of the law’s critics say, because the undocumented workers who would have cleaned them up are not.
“You really have to work hard at it to destroy our state’s economy, but we found a way,” said state Sen. Harry Coates, the only Republican in the state Legislature to vote against the immigration law. “We ran off the workforce.”
Construction companies that relied on undocumented laborers are having trouble completing jobs. Thousands of undocumented children have been dropped from the state’s Medicaid program. And business is down sharply at the stores, groceries and restaurants that serve a Hispanic clientele.
More rut roh. Or is it?
“The state of Oklahoma ought not be in the business of subsidizing the presence of people who are here illegally,” said Republican state Rep. Randy Terrill, sponsor of the Oklahoma Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act of 2007, also known as House Bill 1804.
He’s got a point.
But is this what we want?