Oklahoma Bill HB 3384: Exclusively Aimed at Overturning Plyler v. Doe


Rep. Randy Terrill(R) Oklahoma, creator of HB 3384

The Oklahoma state legislature is considering a proposal to require public schools to verify the immigration status of all students, as states Long Island Wins.

It appears that there is some misunderstanding as to the motivation behind this bill. Cristina Jimenez asserts at DMI blog that:

If passed, the Quality of Education Assessment for Oklahoma Citizens Act of 2010 would force immigrants to hide and prevent immigrant children from going to school.

While Cristina’s assertion is possible, it is not certain; the purpose of this bill does not, in the short-term, seem to aim at preventing  undocumented students from attending public schools in Oklahoma. In fact, the bill’s goal is even more insidious; it wants to enable any school any where in the United States from barring all undocumented students from attending primary and secondary public education schools. Here’s why.

Attacking Plyler v. Doe

In 1982, Texas(kind of ironic because of the recent Texas Board of Education Decision to ideologically control U.S. history), passed into law a bill that would have deprived state public education schools funding if it permitted undocumented students from attending. In other words, Texas did not want “illegal immigrants” in its public school system.

The Supreme Court ruled that the Texas bill  violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Federal Constitution, thus striking it down.

Part of the decision was grounded upon the question of whether barring undocumented students from attending public schools would improve the overall quality of education for legal/citizen resident students. Presumably, if the state of Texas provided substantial evidence of the severe cost and subsequent hampering of the quality of education due to undocumented students attendance, they may have prevailed in enacting the law barring them from attendance. But Texas didn’t, as the Court stated: “But the record in no way supports the claim that exclusion of undocumented children is likely to improve the overall quality of education in the State”.

Rep. Randy Terrill(R)’s Goal

Terrill claims that his only purpose[behind the bill] is gathering accurate information about the cost of educating illegal immigrant children. Terrill’s admits that his “data” collection is far from unbiased:” that he expects the data to show the cost of educating illegal immigrants to be “stunningly high.”

There we have it. Terrill wants the data to bolster a future effort to create a bill that bars “illegal immigrant children” from attending public schools in Oklahoma. Simply put: Terrill and whoever else support the bill are unabashedly pursuing a course of action to overturn Plyler v. Doe. This goal, therefore, implicitly sheds doubt on Terrill’s other assertions that the data collected will not be used to enforce immigration laws. Cristina Jimenez may  be right after all.

If a student is undocumented, it is likely that their parents are as well. Considering that ICE’s(Immigrations and Customs Enforcement) principal purpose is to find and deport undocumented individuals, a parent with an undocumented child has every reason to be fearful of disclosing the critical, potentially life-altering information of which legal status is.

This fear in the eyes of the parents becomes further justified given the proven animosity of Terrill and other supporters of HB 3384 towards them and their children; Terrill wants to prevent their children from going to school and is probably not averse towards the “permanent underclass” that would result from the fruition of his ultimate goal.

If passed into law, HB3384 may violate the equal protection clause because its ostensible goal–to just collect data on the cost of illegal immigrant children–serves no  rational basis; it is exclusively to gather data to attack Plyler v. Doe and, concurrently, it is not unreasonable to conclude that the effect of it will be to, like the original Texas case, create a permanent underclass of people for no other reason than having been brought here by their parents. Let us hope that CIR is passed so that regressive, non-productive bills like HB3384 do not have to be challenged.


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11 Responses to “Oklahoma Bill HB 3384: Exclusively Aimed at Overturning Plyler v. Doe”

  1. Liquid Reigns Says:

    t is not unreasonable to conclude that the effect of it will be to, like the original Texas case, create a permanent underclass of people for no other reason than having been brought here by their parents.

    (Devils Advocate)

    Could it also be construed as a deterrent, informing the parents to not bring their children here and to also attempt to keep the parents from leaving their children in their countries of origin, basically to be a parent in their own countries, thereby not creating an underclass here?

  2. bjohns15 Says:

    On an an abstract level, yes. I actually have been personally ticked off at some of my undocumented Mexican friends.

    One of them had his 14 year old son come here to the United States. Problem: He can’t work for at least 2 years and is not attending school; he sits at home all day, doing nothing. Honestly, considering the circumstances of this kid, he would have been better off staying in Mexico at least until he graduated high school.

    As a practical manner, I believe people will continue to come and continue to bring their children regardless of any legislative remedies for deterring this practice. Thus, if the lawmakers are aware and acknowledge the intractability of it, I believe a more accurate interpretation of the bill is to create the underclass.

  3. Oklahoma Bill HB 3384: Exclusively Aimed at Overturning Plyler v … | Educational Oklahoma Says:

    […] More: Oklahoma Bill HB 3384: Exclusively Aimed at Overturning Plyler v … […]

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  5. ubaldo hernandez Says:

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  6. Danny D Says:

    As this has been passed, what do you think students/families should do in reaction to this? My fear, living in Tulsa, OK, is that many of the kids in town, esp on the east side, will be afraid to go to school or have their parents tell them they can’t/shouldn’t go. Obviously, the students are guaranteed the right to an education… but what should their action be? I just found out about this today and would like to see what I can do to help people in my city. What do you suggest?

    • bjohns15 Says:

      If I were the parents, I would send my kids to school regardless of the bill. The kids need to go to school, and it does not appear like this specific bill will share immigration status with federal authorities.

      • Danny D Says:

        Cool. Also, what do you think about if the bill gets passed and the possibility of other students refusing to provide documentation as a sign of solidarity? I’m trying to find a copy of the bill to see what legal ramifications people might have for refusing to provide documentation. Also, if students were counted illegal because they can’t provide proof of citizenship (thereby the inference being they’re illegal) what if other students just provided nothing? I’m assuming they’ll have to take students at face value because you can’t PROVE you’re illegal, only prove you aren’t.

      • bjohns15 Says:

        Solidarity amongst the students, as you put it here, sounds like a good idea, but I have some reservations. For example, the state legislators seem to be severely anti-undocumented. Therefore, it seems many of the students’ parents would be also. Solidarity amongst the students may be hard to achieve.

  7. Oklahoma Senate: We Persecute on Account of Immigration Status « Life Through the Lens of Bryan Says:

    […] written of Oklahoma’s immigration policies in the past; and this one, HB 3341, earns 1st prize in the category of demonizing undocumented […]

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