The Chamber of Commerce of the United States, Oklahoma-based
chambers and other groups filed suit in federal court Friday
challenging portions of Oklahoma's strict new immigration law.
In addition to the national chamber, other plaintiffs include the
The State Chamber of Oklahoma, Greater Oklahoma City Chamber,
Metropolitan Tulsa Chamber of Commerce, Oklahoma Restaurant
Association and the Oklahoma Hotel and Lodging Association.
The groups are also seeking an injunction to block enforcement of
those sections while the lawsuit is pending.
However, state Rep. Randy Terrill, R-Moore, principal author of
the law, said he expects it to survive the latest challenge as it
did previous legal actions filed by Hispanic groups and churches in
Tulsa federal court.
"This is just another in a series of attempts by the pro-illegal-
alien lobby and their allies, who profit from cheap illegal-alien
labor, to accomplish through the judicial process what they were
unable to accomplish through the legislative process, namely the
defeat of House Bill 1804," Terrill said.
He said what the groups are defending "is the functional
equivalent of modern-day slavery" in the economic exploitation and
subjugation of a particular group of people.
"It wasn't morally acceptable in the context of slavery and it's
not morally acceptable in the context of illegal alien labor today,"
Richard Rush, president and CEO of The State Chamber, said the
groups launched the lawsuit to advocate for and protect their
members. He said the chamber's mission is to protect Oklahoma jobs.
"To accomplish our mission, we must protect Oklahoma's business
community from state laws and regulations which make them less
competitive than those in other states and around the world," Rush
Specifically, the organizations are challenging sections
requiring businesses to verify the work authorization status of
independent contractors, and requiring contractors who desire to do
business with the state to participate in a status verification
system for new employees.
Organization officials said that businesses face state tax
penalties if they do not verify the worker status of independent
contractors. They also said that under the law, discharged workers
can bring discrimination claims against businesses if they can show
the employer knew or should have known that another worker was
"If these provisions are allowed to enter into force while this
litigation is pending, plaintiffs and their members will suffer
irreparable harm," they said in their motion for a preliminary
They contend that Congress has preempted regulation of such
issues under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Chamber officials said that a Pennsylvania federal court ruled
last July that similar state and local regulation of unauthorized
workers interferes with congressional objectives and is
Roy Williams, president of the Oklahoma City chamber, said the
law brings new challenges to the companies his group represents.
"If we follow the new state law, we violate federal law,"
Williams said. "That is a predicament no Oklahoma company should
Mike Neal, president and CEO of the Tulsa chamber, said that
participation in the lawsuit does not equate to support of illegal
"The Tulsa region is outpacing the rest of the nation in job
growth," Neal said. "Oklahoma's HB 1804 requires our businesses to
police immigration issues through an erroneous system, reduces the
pool of legal workers and harms the ability of Oklahoma businesses
to grow. …