Some Tulsa homebuilders say they're hurting for labor. It's been a problem for years, but now, The News On 6's Emory Bryan reports, some believe that immigration enforcement is going to make the shortage even worse. Tulsa's home building industry remains strong, but some homebuilders say they're losing their immigrant workers, who are afraid of being deported.
"Many of them are either leaving the area or staying home and not working certain days because of fear of arrest," said Glenn Shaw with the Homebuilders Association of Greater Tulsa.
Victor Gonzalez is a subcontractor for Shaw who is worried his employees will leave Oklahoma. He says all of his men have social security cards, but he's not sure if they're authentic.
"They're very scared, sometimes they don't want to go to work, or to the grocery store because they don't want to be caught," said brick mason Victor Gonzalez.
But Carol Helm, an advocate for tougher immigration enforcement, says having immigrants deport themselves from Oklahoma is proof they are not legally here.
"If they can find another state that doesn't care whether they pay taxes or follow the rule of law, then I'm sure they'll be welcome there," said Carol Helm with IRON Oklahoma.
Since Hispanic crews are already leaving the state in advance of the law just based on their fears, the homebuilders wonder what will happen when it takes effect.
"Well I think it will be over before November 1st, these guys are getting so scared they'll be gone before then," Shaw said.
Gonzalez says he crossed the border illegally 16 years ago, but now has legal status, and his own company. He believes most immigrants want the same opportunity without fear of being taken to jail, and then out of the country.
The Homebuilders Association of Greater Tulsa president estimates immigrants supply 40% of the labor for home building. Glenn Shaw says there's such a shortage of good labor that anyone leaving will delay projects.
News On 6
303 N. Boston Ave.
Tulsa, OK 74103
Newson6.com is proud to provide Oklahomans with timely and relevant news and information, sharing the stories, pictures and loves of Oklahomans across our great state.