Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Terrill: Oklahoma Needs 'Arizona-plus' Law

The arrest of an alleged high-ranking member of the Mexican Sinaloa Cartel in Oklahoma City proves the need for Oklahoma to pass “an Arizona-plus illegal alien law,” Rep. Randy Terrill said today.

“We now have solid evidence that part of the effect of Arizona’s law is to send the illegal alien problem straight down Interstate 40,” said Terrill, R-Moore. “The border war is spreading to Oklahoma. Tough illegal alien laws in one state create a domino effect forcing these criminals into other states. We need to respond by duplicating the Arizona statute in Oklahoma law and enhancing it.”

According to reports, the Mexican Sinaloa Cartel has decided to shift operations from Arizona to Oklahoma due to the border state’s recently enacted law targeting illegal aliens. The Arizona law largely duplicates existing federal law and allows local law enforcement officials to request valid documentation of citizenship.

At least nine people were arrested as part of the Sinaloa Cartel bust.

As part of that sting operation, law enforcement officials were able to track hundreds of thousands of dollars in wire transfers to Mexico due to Oklahoma law.

Under legislation authored by Terrill in 2009, the state assesses a 1-percent fee on funds wired out of Oklahoma. Individuals with a valid Social Security number can recoup the cost of the fee on their tax returns. As a result, the law mostly impacts drug traffickers and illegal aliens.

Revenue collected from the fee is deposited in a “Drug Money Laundering and Wire Transmitter Revolving Fund.” The fee has generated millions that could have offset budget cuts to law enforcement agencies during this year’s shortfall.

“The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics has done yeoman’s work with this sting operation, but this week’s arrests prove we must not permit the wire transmitter act to be weakened,” Terrill said. “Oklahoma is the only state to have this law and it has clearly made it easier for law enforcement to catch these violent, dangerous criminals.”

Terrill said he will file legislation to duplicate and enhance the Arizona law in Oklahoma. In addition to allowing Oklahoma law enforcement to verify legal status, Terrill said the proposed law would also include greater penalties for illegal aliens involved in the drug trade and/or human trafficking crimes.

“We particularly need enhanced felony criminal penalties for these illegal-alien drug-dealing gangbangers caught carrying firearms,” Terrill said. “In addition, we need to expand our drug asset seizure-and-forfeiture laws to include all immigration-related offenses.”

Currently, law enforcement officials can seize any property used in the commission of a drug crime, such as vehicles used to transport drugs. Terrill said the same penalty should apply to immigration violations such as harboring, transporting, concealing and sheltering illegal aliens.

“Asset seizure would create an additional deterrent for all immigration-related offenses as well as violent gang activity,” Terrill said. “It would also create an additional funding source for state and local law enforcement officials. We can force the bad guys to pay for the good guys to catch and prosecute them.

“Illegal aliens are not only a drain on our state budget, but also create a breeding ground for violent drug dealers and gangbangers who victimize innocent citizens,” Terrill said. “It’s long past time that we drop the hammer on them.”

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