Tulsa City Councilor Wants Stronger Enforcement Of Immigration Laws

Sunday, June 13th 2010, 9:20 pm
By: News On 6

By Emory Bryan, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- A Tulsa City Councilor wants to see stronger enforcement of current immigration laws by making sure that city employees and city contractors are American citizens.

"We still haven't really enforced our immigration laws," said Jim Mautino, Tulsa City Council.

Mautino figures the city ought to pick up where state law, he says, has been ineffective. He wants a draft of a city ordinance to become law. It would require the city, and contractors who work for the city, to verify the citizenship status of all employees. 

Read the draft.

Jim Mautino believes city contractors, especially road contractors, are hiring illegal immigrants to cut labor costs.

"They can afford to work for less money. The contractors can hire them for less money, but when it's all said and done, they have more money in their hand than our workers do because they're not paying these taxes," said Mautino.

All of those arguments don't hold up for Leonard Bush, who represents the Coalition of Hispanic Organizations.

"I'm afraid it just amplifies and intensifies the debate. I don't know if it really accomplishes anything and it certainly doesn't move towards solving the problem," said Bush.

Bush recognizes there are many immigrants in Tulsa who don't have the right paperwork. But he believes a city ordinance requiring employers to verify citizenship won't accomplish much.

"I'm just very, very cautious of plain simple solutions because so far, all the simple solutions haven't fixed anything," said Bush.

The proposed ordinance is up for discussion Tuesday at the Tulsa City Council where it is unlikely to get much support from other councilors, especially at the moment, when finalizing the budget is the priority.