Let's wait and see on state immigration law's impact
By Jeff Mullin, Enid News & Eagle
Illegal immigration is, everyone agrees, a problem in the United
States. According to the Web site immigrationcounters.com, there are
21.4 million illegal immigrants in the United States. In an effort to
crack down on illegal immigration in Oklahoma, Rep. Randy Terrill,
R-Moore, authored House Bill 1804, which was passed last session and
went into effect Nov. 1.
The measure prevents undocumented immigrants from obtaining driver's
licenses and public services. The bill made it illegal to transport,
conceal or harbor illegal immigrants and eventually will require
employers to check immigration status of employees through an online
The bill also, according to a recent report, is costing Oklahoma money.
A study, commissioned by Oklahoma Bankers' Association and conducted
by Economic Impact Group of Edmond, found HB 1804 will cost our state
$1.8 billion in economic losses as foreign-born workers leave the
This projection is based on 50,000 workers, both documented an
undocumented, leaving the state, causing a 1.3 percent drop in the
gross state product.
But do the numbers add up? Not necessarily, according to local
Hispanic representatives. Tillie Sewell, of Enid Hispanic Council, said
she believes the impact of HB 1804 already would have been seen around
Enid. She said she doesn't see many people leaving Enid at this time
and says she doesn't expect a mass exodus.
That likely is because most foreign-born workers in this area are
properly documented, either as naturalized citizens or resident aliens.
Local lawmakers, like state Sen. Patrick Anderson, R-Enid, and Rep.
Mike Jackson, R-Enid, are skeptical of the economic impact report, and
It is too early to tell the full economic impact of HB 1804. There
may be isolated sectors where there is a larger impact than others -
such as construction - but it is too soon to issue dire predictions
about the economic impact of immigration reform.
Posted on Tue, April 15, 2008
by Jennifer Gilliland