Nov 5, 2007
On Thursday, November 1, 2007, the state of Oklahoma put into effect one of the harshest state laws ever passed about immigration. It threatens felony charges against anyone who “knowingly” employs, transports or provides shelter for illegal immigrants.
It establishes many more ways to stop and check immigrants for the purpose of immediately deporting them. Not only could religious people be accused of a felony if they offer any aid to an immigrant in Oklahoma, so could bus drivers – if they “knowingly” carried an illegal immigrant to work.
Immigrants whose work would qualify them for unemployment benefits when laid off, or workers compensation when hurt on the job, couldn’t even apply.
This Oklahoma law, like 182 bills that became law in 43 states this year, is aimed at threatening immigrants, whatever their documentation or status. It also aims at convincing other workers that something is being done about the economic crisis affecting everyone. It sets up immigrants as scapegoats for problems of the whole economy.
The Pew Center gives an estimate for illegal immigrants in Oklahoma of 50,000 to 80,000, which is about two% of the population of 3,433,496. Two% of the population can hardly be the cause of not having enough unemployment funds. If hospitals and school districts in Oklahoma lack what they need, it’s thanks to politicians like the ones who sponsored this bill. Instead of money to solve the problems, state legislators waste it attacking immigrants.
The working class has often been divided, with one section pitted against another, in competition for jobs, housing, and social necessities such as education. In some time periods, the issue is immigrants; in other time periods, the bosses foster the divisions that have existed historically between blacks and whites to divide working people. Or they will use older workers versus younger workers, or women versus men. The times when the working class moved forward were those times when it at least partly united its forces.
The bosses like to claim there aren’t enough jobs to go around. The problem isn’t a lack of work that needs to be done. The problem is bosses who don’t want to touch their profits to pay for it.
The bosses use any trick in the book to keep us divided and quiet, so we won’t question, protest or organize against them. It’s past time to tear up their book and work on getting what we all need – decent paying jobs for every person needing to work.