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Local Business Could See A Boost Thanks To A New Immigration Law

Employee background checks are done online. Employee background checks are done online.

Now that House Bill 1804 is law, Oklahoma businesses will have some extra checking to do before they hire new employees. The owner of one Tulsa company says immigration legislation will change her industry entirely. News On 6 anchor Scott Thompson reports it may also boost her bottom line.

Julie Hakman is a company president and a certified private investigator. For years, her company, AmericanChecked, has done background checks for other businesses. Now she says new immigration laws are turning her industry upside down.

"Those are apples to oranges to what was being done in the industry prior to this," AmericanChecked President Julie Hakman said.

Hakman's Tulsa company has hundreds of customers nationwide. Many are now asking her to verify their employees' citizenship and immigration status, instead of doing it themselves.

"That's a burden and some additional tasks that's put on the shoulders of private and public companies," Hakman said.

Hakman uses the same system the state of Oklahoma will soon require local businesses to use. The database is part of the Social Security administration and the Department of Homeland Security. She says like any government program, it's complicated.

"If you key something in wrong, it's going to get accepted and you're not going to know until you receive some sort of fine from the government for non-compliance that your I-9 forms were not submitted correctly," said Hakman. Hakman says if a business doesn't get special training in the system, they may have to hire outside help, and that costs money. Another problem: the deadline. Companies that aren't running the system by July 2008 may need extra help as well.

"The system is still not perfect," Hakman said. "We're relying on old systems to help us with new problems."

She says criminals found out how to get past the old system, and it's just a matter of time before they figure this one out as well.

In most background check businesses can find employees' criminal and financial records. But Hakman's company is one of only a few in the nation already tied into the immigration database.

Originally aired 5/9/2007 5:00 PM - Updated 5/10/2007 5:46 PM

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