Immigration bill subject to interpretation

November 7, 2007 — Among the numerous laws in effect as of November 1 is the Oklahoma Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act of 2007, also known as the controversial illegal immigration bill contained in HB1804. Although most of this new law relates only to employers and employees, there is one section with a potential impact on the real estate industry.

SECTION 3. NEW LAW: A new section of law to be codified in the Oklahoma Statutes as Section 446 of Title 21, unless there is created a duplication in numbering, reads as follows:

A. It shall be unlawful for any person to transport, move, or attempt to transport in the State of Oklahoma any alien knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that the alien has come to, entered, or remained in the United States in violation of law, in furtherance of the illegal presence of the alien in the United States.

B. It shall be unlawful for any person to conceal, harbor, or shelter from detection any alien in any place within the State of Oklahoma, including any building or means of transportation, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that the alien has come to, entered, or remained in the United States in violation of law.

C. Nothing in this section shall be construed so as to prohibit or restrict the provision of any state or local public benefit described in 8 U.S.C., Section 1621(b), or regulated public health services provided by a private charity using private funds.

D. Any person violating the provisions of subsections A or B of this section shall, upon conviction, be guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment in the custody of the Department of Corrections for not less than one (1) year, or by a fine of not less than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00), or by both such fine and imprisonment.

Sections A and B above mirror current federal law with one key exception: the word “shelter” is not used in federal law. Federal law uses the word “shield” instead of “shelter.” The inclusion of the word “shelter” has raised questions whether or not this section is applicable to landlords and their tenants. As of press time, several court challenges to this new law remain, and it is unclear how this new statute will be interpreted. However, as of this writing, the author of the Oklahoma legislation has told OAR it is likely that the new law will include landlords and tenants.

Another question has been raised regarding Section A, which makes the transport of an alien subject to a state felony. When we spoke with the author of the Oklahoma bill, he referred to the last part of Section A, which says “…in furtherance of the illegal presence of the alien in the United States.” It was the opinion of the legislation author that this language would apply to REALTORS® transporting illegal aliens in order to show them listings. However, as mentioned above, the exact interpretation of the law is yet to be seen.

We are providing this information so that you can use caution and be aware of the new legislation. We’ll keep you posted as interpretation of the new law continues. Meanwhile, if you have any questions or need further information, please contact OAR’s Director of Government Affairs, Charla Slabotsky at 800.375.9944 or Charla (at) OklahomaRealtors (dot) com.

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