City Of Tulsa Moving Forward With Immigration Ordinance That Council Rejected

Friday, June 25th 2010, 6:08 pm
By: News On 6

By Emory Bryan, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Even though the Tulsa City Council turned down a new law designed to crack down on illegal immigrants, the City of Tulsa plans to put it into practice anyway.

In a packed room last week, the city council turned down an ordinance that would have required the city to verify that employees and city contractors are eligible to work in the U.S.

6/18/2010 Related Story: Tulsa City Council Approves Sexual Orientation Policy; Rejects Immigration Ordinance

This week councilors learned the city planned to implement an identical policy regardless.  Bob Edmiston, Attorney for the City of Tulsa, told councilors it's to comply with state law.

"Last week's vote to turn down the ordinance has absolutely no impact whatsoever on the city's requirements under House Bill 1804," Edmiston said.

That came as a surprise to Councilor Jim Mautino, who backed the ordinance that failed. And some councilors who voted against it think the city is wasting time and money.

"We're going to be using citizens of Tulsa money to do something the federal government ought to be doing and we don't have enough money now," Councilor Jack Henderson said.

The policy change will impact city contractors who work on things like road projects. They will either be required to simply comply with the state law or sign an affidavit that says they are using the federal "e-verify" system to check their employees.

Advocates for immigrants believe it won't amount to much.

"Either you provide proof you're registered with e-verify or you sign the affidavit stating I'm in compliance this is what we do," said Marvin Lizama, Coalition for the American Dream. "Either way, you're taking someone at their word; it's the honor system."

The city has no plans to verify individuals who work for contractors, or subcontractors, only new employees who work directly for the city.

Edmiston said they'll have the new contracts ready within a week. He told councilors the city would not be an enforcer of immigration laws but would be expected to report it if they discovered a contractor in violation.

6/15/2010 Related Story: Tulsa Group Says Immigration Enforcement Is A Federal Thing, Not The City's Concern