Gov. Henry, who feels the federal government should address illegal immigration, signed the Oklahoma Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act of 2007, in the face of the law's overwhelming support in the state legislature. Votes of 88-14 in the House and 41-6 in the Senate told Henry that his veto would be overridden.
When it takes effect on November 1, the law will make it a crime for citizens of Oklahoma to knowingly harbor or employ illegal immigrants, and deny public benefits to illegal immigrants, except in medical emergencies or emergency aid. The law also denies in-state college tuition rates for illegal immigrants, unless they can show proof that they have applied for U.S. citizenship, something the law's critics say is almost impossible to do once a student has entered the U.S. illegally.
Feelings against illegal immigration run strong in Oklahoma, as evidenced by the first sentence in the new law: "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."
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