Thursday, November 15, 2007
Are you still believe that Undocumented Immigrants draining the services or you just want to deported all for not paid them the benefits they are entitled to?.
Attorneys see surge in immigrant clientele. Study concluded that the total 2004 tax revenue attributable to immigrant workers was about $2.4 billion, including $860 million for naturalized citizens and $1.5 billion for non-citizens.
OKLAHOMA CITY – A new Oklahoma immigration law under challenge in federal court is bringing more clients to immigration attorneys’ offices, some with fears based in misunderstanding the law, others with real concerns their families may be split apart.
The new law, most of which went into effect Nov. 1, affects illegal immigrants in their encounters with law enforcement and government agencies from which they seek services. Language that affects businesses and employers goes into effect next July.
The law also affects landlords and makes it illegal to transport or harbor immigrants with knowledge of their illegal status.
Hispanic church leaders and others are challenging the law’s constitutionality in Tulsa federal court, but they were unsuccessful in their attempt at blocking its enforcement while the court case is resolved.
Vance Winningham has been an immigration attorney for more than 35 years.
He said a number of people who come to his Oklahoma City office could be described as terrorized.
“We’ve had people come in who are American citizens and their spouse is an undocumented alien, and they’re not really eligible to obtain a green card at the present time without leaving the country,” Winningham said. “Several of them have children who were born here and are U.S. citizens.”
He told of one particular family in which the mother fears she will be arrested and her husband will be deported, leaving their children with no one to care for them.
“You can imagine how terrifying that is,” Winningham said.
Winningham was asked what he tells clients about the new law’s requirements.
“We just advise them that they don’t have to prove their alienage,” he said. “It’s up to the government.”
In situations where someone is arrested for a felony or a DUI, he said, law enforcement is bound to try to ascertain people’s status.
“But we’ve had people come in, and it was just a regular traffic stop,” he said. “Just the other day, they were both Hispanic. He had his green card, she didn’t. They took her and called ICE, and I assume she’s in deportation proceedings.”
Winningham’s firm also hears from employers wondering what their responsibilities are under the new state law.
“I said, if you don’t know what their nationality is and they haven’t told you, you don’t need to inquire at all,” he said. “Same way we’ve heard, landlords that are evicting all their Hispanic folks just because they’re Hispanic if they can’t show papers. Well, they don’t have to do that.”
Winningham said the law requires knowledge of or reckless disregard for whether an individual is in the country illegally.
“To rent a house, you don’t have to ask for their papers,” he said.
Winningham also said that a U.S. Supreme Court case prohibits denying children an education.
“School officials aren’t even authorized to ask what their legalization is,” he said. “They don’t have to produce a Social Security number or anything else.”
He said a recent trip to Ardmore demonstrated the potential economic effect of the law.
Winningham said he was in a Mexican restaurant that is usually filled with local Hispanic workers and their families, especially on Sundays and at noon times.
“It was almost vacant,” he said.
However, he said the owners of another restaurant in a small town that he declined to name told him they have not been affected much, because the town has made its Hispanics part of the community.
“Just from a logical standpoint, we need to deal with it,” Winningham said. “We’ve got 12 million people here.”
He said these are people who produce and buy goods.
“You think we’ve got some problems with the economy now,” he said.
Winningham said two recent studies came to the same conclusion, that immigrants have a net positive impact economically.
One of those studies was conducted by Judith Gans, with the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy at the University of Arizona.
Arizona’s foreign-born population grew by 200 percent between 1990 and 2004, with its non-citizen population rising by almost 280 percent.
Gans’ study concluded that the total 2004 tax revenue attributable to immigrant workers was about $2.4 billion, including $860 million for naturalized citizens and $1.5 billion for non-citizens.
Balanced against about $1.4 billion in estimated costs for education, health care and law enforcement, Gans determined that the net fiscal impact of immigrants in Arizona was a positive $940 million.
The study concluded that the total economic output attributable to immigrant workers was about $44 billion, including $29 billion for non-citizens