It's up to state lawmakers to create laws that fight illegal immigration. Jack Martin of the Federation for American Immigration Reform told a state House committee Tuesday. An estimated 83,000 illegal immigrants in Oklahoma cost the state about $207-million annually and the problem is only expected to grow.
News on 6 anchor Tami Marler explains what some governments are doing to stem the tide.
Oklahoma's illegal immigrant population has nearly doubled in five years. Immigration reform groups tell state and local lawmakers, don't wait for the federal government to enforce immigration law.
The Federation for American Immigration Reform says the booming population costs the state, enough to hire about 7,000 new teachers, enough to fund Tulsa's police and fire departments for a-year-and-a-half. The FAIR representative advised legislators to remove the incentives that draw illegals to Oklahoma. "I would say we have at least ten a month that come in that I know they're illegal immediately because they don't speak English; and usually they have one person as an interpreter."
Shirley Geriets says there is no place in her business for illegal immigrants. She's been matching workers with jobs in Tulsa for 32 years. She and her employees, work hard to make sure the ones they hire are legal. "I place I would say 90 percent of the people who come in on jobs. And I'm not going to hire anyone that's illegal."
Shirley says it wouldn't be fair to give jobs to illegals when American citizens, Oklahomans, are applying for the same jobs. So it's her responsibility to scrutinize applicants' documents. Not to mention, it's a federal law. "When we requested the form years ago, they sent me a letter telling me there was a fine you know, $10,000 if we hired an illegal."
Has anyone ever audited your applications? â€œNever, never.â€
How many applications have you taken in? â€œHundreds and hundreds and hundreds. And no one's ever audited. No."
While employers like Shirley Geriets have followed the federal government's un-policed immigration rules, it hasn't kept more than a-million undocumented workers from pouring over the border this year. So now states are taking the initiative. North Carolina enacted legislation that requires all state employees to be screened through the federal basic pilot program website
That gives the same information Shirley Geriets has been collecting for years.