Immigration law causes frustration

Monday, February 25th 2008, 12:13 am
By: News 9


Oklahoma's illegal immigration law is generating opinions that it is bad for business. But the law's author says cracking down on illegal aliens could keep us out of a recession. Jennifer Pierce takes a closer look at the debate.

Financial analysts predict a nationwide recession, while Wall Street braces for it, the federal government tries to fix it and Oklahoma lawmakers say they know how to keep our state out of it.

"What we need to be focused on is workforce development and importing Michigan Americans and not a workforce that we subjugate and exploit," Rep. Randy Terrill, (R) Moore said.

On Saturday, in a small Seminole, Okla. restaurant, in front of a split audience, Rep. Randy Terrill and Senator Harry Coates debate the immigration issue and what is means to the state's economy.

"We need to fix it," Marci Donaho said. "This is definitely going to hurt our economy. I look at the Statue of Liberty, ‘Give me your tired, give me your poor'."

She worries House Bill 1804 will drive labor out of our state and business owners will take the economic hit.

"We have turned our back on people that are here for one reason," Sen. Harry Coates, (R) Seminole said. "They're here to work and we've demonized the businessman. What's a business person to do, man or woman, when they can't hire enough help?"

That's why some in this room are asking for change.

"Peace and prosperity is going out the window if we don't fix House Bill 1804," Coates said.
While other states try to duplicate 1804, Terrill stands behind it saying the state will benefit by opening up jobs for legal residents.

"Illegal aliens will not come to Oklahoma if there are no jobs waiting for them," Terrill said. "They will not stay here if there are not tax payer funded subsidy."

"He's trying to protect us through this bill, protect our funds through this bill," supporter Sadie Villines said.

The law will impact private business owners on July 1. That's when they will be required to verify all workers' legal status.