Calling the measure “exceedingly harsh” and saying it goes “way too far,” the Senate author of a bill that criminalizes offering humanitarian assistance to undocumented immigrants said Monday that he will not seek a hearing on the measure in committee.
Senator Jeff Rabon, D-Hugo, sent a letter Monday afternoon to Senate Health and Human Resources Committee Chairman Bernest Cain, explaining that he would not be requesting a hearing for House Bill 3119.
“While I understand that illegal immigration is indeed an issue in Oklahoma and there may be things we can address on the state level, House Bill 3119 goes way too far,” Rabon said in the letter. “This measure is exceedingly harsh and its broad scope provides for punishment for the wrong people.”
Rabon said the measure attempts to turn state employees into border patrol agents and provides for punishment for state workers who provide compassionate aid to some of the most vulnerable people in Oklahoma. Republican Randy Terrill of Moore is the principal author of the measure in the House.
Rabon expressed deep concerns that taxpayers are “picking up the tab” for services for those who choose not to obey the law.
“But it’s time to slow this train down. Our agencies, schools and medical institutions are not prepared to start this program. I’d like to see how this would be practically applied.” Rabon said.
Rabon said nationally the discussion of immigration issues is becoming more and more divisive.
“I think it would be counter-productive to embroil Oklahoma in a highly-charged emotional debate especially about an issue that is decidedly federal in nature,” Rabon wrote.