Oklahoma's House Bill 1804 Enforcement Will Impact Employers, Immigrants
TULSA, Oklahoma - Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt said Wednesday he plans to start enforcing a state law that requires businesses to make sure new employees are legal citizens.
House Bill 1804 has gone through a number of challenges in court
While some parts of it have been struck down, the law requiring employers to do a mandatory immigration check is here to stay.
"I don't hear a lot of complaints by employers that they don't want to do it," said attorney Larry Henry.
Henry specializes in working with companies that conduct background checks.
He said Oklahoma's law requiring businesses that contract with any publicly funded agency, such as the state or city government, to check potential employees' immigration status is not that unusual. Twenty-two other states have similar laws.
"There may be political views that go one way or another, but, certainly, it's something that's within the providence of a state to say, 'Please do this' and now go do it," Henry said.
Portions of H.B. 1804 were originally opposed by the Tulsa Regional Chamber, but Wednesday pro-business groups and the state's Attorney General agreed to the appeals court decision making background checks mandatory.
Still, the chamber released this statement Thursday:
"The federal government, not the states, holds the expertise and the power to properly reform and enforce immigration policies and procedures."
"It's frustrating. Obviously, it makes me mad as well," said Tulsa resident, Ivan.
Ivan asked us to not use his last name. He said he's worried that seeing illegal immigrants arrested and deported without may become more commonplace.
Ivan is 25 years old now, but he came to the U.S. at the age of 14, when his parents crossed the border from Mexico illegally.
"This, to me, sounds like another scare tactic, which, I think - H.B. 1804 - is ultimately all that it was. It was nothing but a tactic to self-deportation for our immigrant community," Ivan said.
Henry said the cost per employee to conduct background checks is only a few dollars and he expects businesses to fully comply with the law.
"I think businesses will certainly comply with it, especially in the state. If you want to have a contract with the state and keep that, you'd better be doing it," Henry said.
The Attorney General's office says it is still working out the details on how this law will be enforced.
Ivan has started the process of becoming a U.S. citizen under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.