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Oklahoma State Immigration Laws

Navigating the intricacies of immigration laws may feel challenging and overwhelming for some. This article aims to give immigrants a better understanding of their civil rights and responsibilities. It also looks at how immigration status affects their access to public benefits. We will discuss the following topics in this article:

We will clarify some of the fundamental rights that everyone has, regardless of their immigration status. The federal and local governments share enforcement of these laws. And with the constantly changing rules, it is always best to stay informed.

To help you understand immigration law, FindLaw has a collection of related articles. These articles address each state law.

Law Enforcement and Immigration in Oklahoma

State and local police must verify a person's immigration status. After that, they must report immigrants living here illegally to federal immigration agencies. Included among these agencies are as follows:

ICE also implemented the 287(g) program, working with the attorney general, FBI, and DHS. With this program, federal and local authorities work together to enforce immigration laws. They identify noncitizens and nonimmigrants in jails and prisons and check their immigration status.

In 2017, the U.S. Government implemented similar "Secure Communities" measures through executive order. Secure Communities was a program implemented for law enforcement agencies to work together. One of its goals was to identify immigrants living here illegally who were arrested for criminal offenses.

The Secure Communities program shared biometric information between the FBI and the DHS. This information-sharing scheme allowed them to verify the immigration status of arrested people. The ICE would take the necessary steps if the person were an undocumented immigrant.

Since revoking "Secure Communities," state and federal law have implemented similar initiatives. This includes the Criminal Apprehension Program (CAP). The program supports ICE in protecting the country from individuals threatening the U.S. communities. CAP focuses on arresting and identifying non-U.S. citizens arrested and criminal noncitizens.

Oklahoma E-Verify Requirements

Public employers, contractors, and subcontractors must use the E-Verify system.

Driver's License/I.D. Requirements

Most states only allow permanent residents and U.S. citizens to get a driver's license. But, immigrants living in Oklahoma may soon be able to get a driver's license under a proposed bill by the Oklahoma State Legislature.

This bill would allow undocumented immigrants who pay taxes to get a driver's license. The license will remain valid for four years. But, you cannot use this ID for voter registration or to confirm citizenship.

With constant state and federal law changes, staying informed and up-to-date is important.

Public Benefits Restrictions

Federal law prohibits illegal immigrants from receiving most public benefits. But, they can receive emergency services, health care, and other programs deemed "necessary to protect life and safety."

Education Checks

A growing number of states in the U.S. offer state financial aid to qualified students regardless of their immigration status. Oklahoma is one of the states that offer these benefits to students living here illegally.

The policy aims to help young people brought into the U.S. illegally by their immigrant parents. For example, those with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status. These students can qualify for in-state tuition rates if they are Oklahoma residents.

Voting ID Rules

In 2010, voters passed a controversial voter identification rule. While some have challenged the law in court several times, it remains intact as of a State Supreme Court ruling in 2018. Voters must have valid identification to vote. The document must show the following:

  • Name
  • Photograph
  • Date of issue
  • Expiration date. (Unless the document is valid indefinitely)

A valid voter registration card may prove identification without satisfying the above requirements.

Housing Ordinances and Immigration

A person's immigration status will not affect their rights to federal housing. The U.S. Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination based on the following:

  • Color
  • Race
  • National origin
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Familial status
  • Disability

Thus, most discrimination in housing is illegal, regardless of the person's immigration status.

Related Resources

Various government websites in Oklahoma provide comprehensive resources and help for immigrants. The following are some of these government websites:

  • Immigration Information and Resource — This website offers a collection of links related to immigration issues in Oklahoma.
  • Know Your Rights — An easy-to-read and understand pamphlet. The pamphlet contains information on immigrant rights. It also discusses protecting yourself and your family during immigration raids.
  • Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS) — The OKDHS has a Refugee Resettlement Office that helps asylees, refugees, and entrants. This local government office helps people become self-sufficient. U.S. federal government websites also contain important information.

Learn About Your Rights as an Immigrant in Oklahoma: Call an Attorney

Understanding how immigration law impacts your situation can be challenging. The challenge becomes more significant for migrants facing possible deportation or removal. It's especially difficult for immigrants who are victims of human trafficking or domestic violence. But you need to remember that you are not alone. There are immigration lawyers and nonprofit organizations that can help you.

Immigration attorneys can also assess your eligibility for the following:

  • Employment authorization (work visa/permit)
  • Legal immigration status
  • U.S. citizenship through naturalization

They offer legal services that you might need as you go through the immigration process. They are also knowledgeable about advocacy in immigration court and federal court processes.

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