On January 3, 2008, an Oklahoma taxpayer filed suit in the Tulsa County District Court for the State of Oklahoma, challenging the newly enacted Oklahoma state immigration law - HB 1804 ("Oklahoma Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act of 2007"). The Act made it a felony crime for a person who, knowingly or in reckless disregard of an alien's status, transported, harbored or concealed any undocumented immigrant. It also required state and local agencies and public employers to verify applicants' resident status and to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. Plaintiff's suit alleged that the Act violated the Oklahoma Constitution in that it effectively created "a Bureau of Immigration and allow[ed] for the appropriation and expenditure of public funds."
This state court suit followed a challenge to the Act in federal court. The federal court case, National Coalition of Latino Clergy, Inc. v. Henry (N.D.Ok.) [IM-OK-1 of this collection], alleged that the Act violated the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The federal suit was dismissed for lack of standing, refiled, and dismissed again.
The defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss on January 23, 2008, claiming that the plaintiff lacked standing, but the court denied that motion on April 3, 2008. Plaintiff then filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, which the court granted in part, finding that certain sections of the Act were unconstitutional and could be severed from the remaining portions of the Act.
The second named defendant, the Board of County Commissioners of Tulsa County, was dismissed through stipulation of the parties on April 9, 2008. The plaintiff appealed the trial court's decision to sever certain portions of the Act, and the remaining defendant, the Governor of the State of Oklahoma, filed a cross-appeal, arguing that the plaintiff lacked standing.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court issued a per curiam opinion on June 14, 2011, affirming in part and reversing in part. The court found that the trial court correctly denied the motion to dismiss based on standing because there was sufficient involvement of public funds to warrant taxpayer standing to challenge the Act. The court reversed the trial court only insofar as eliminating one section of the Act, Section 5(C), which altered the presumption for bail in criminal cases where the defendant was a foreign national. With regard to the constitutional challenges, the state supreme court referenced another challenge to the Act in federal court, Chamber of Commerce of the United States v. Edmondson (IM-OK-0003 of this collection). In that case, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed the issuance of a preliminary injunction enjoining enforcement of two sections of the Act because the plaintiffs were likely to prevail on their challenges based on the Supremacy Clause.
Following the mandate from the Oklahoma Supreme Court, the trial court closed the case on October 5, 2011. For more information on challenges to the Act, see IM-OK-0001 and IM-OK-0003 of this collection.Elizabeth Daligga - 07/11/2012