Some Predict Fallout From Roundup

Thursday, April 24th 2008, 6:33 pm
By: News On 6

A roundup of undocumented workers draws some response.  After getting a tip, the Mayes County Sheriff's Office arrested 10 construction workers on Wednesday.  The News On 6's Chris Wright report there has been some fallout from those arrests.

Those in construction say the roundup sets a dangerous precedent, while others believe this is why House Bill 1804 was enacted.

The cars carrying 10 undocumented workers arrived at the Tulsa County Jail on Wednesday.  After receiving a tip, deputies arrested them at their construction site, possibly shutting the door on their time in America.

Mayes County says it will now dedicate more resources to finding other undocumented workers.

"It scares us, if you're going to start using it in that regard, what else might happen that was not within in the intent of the law," said Brian Wiggs with the Tulsa Homebuilders Association.

Brian Wiggs, the head of the Homebuilders Association of Tulsa, believes that HB 1804 was not supposed to inspire busts like the one in Mayes County.  He says the 10 illegals, as well as the documented workers employed by D and D Interiors, were simply putting in a hard day's work, and there was no probable cause for the arrests.  Wiggs says if this continues, the local housing market could be in trouble.

"If it's a foreshadowing of what could happen on local construction sites, it disrupts the business of the day.  It disrupts the economy," said Brian Wiggs.

"We're a nation of laws here, and in Oklahoma that's the purpose 1804 was passed," said Carol Helm with Immigration Reform For Oklahoma Now (IRON).

Members of IRON contend that, probable cause or not, House Bill 1804 was designed to root out undocumented workers.

"Citizens do believe that they should see more and more illegal aliens leaving the state, and so it doesn't surprise me that there are tips turned into the state," said IRON's Carol Helm.

After July 1st, private businesses that hire illegals will be held accountable, as well.  So, future roundups could include business owners, as well as undocumented workers.

D and D interiors says all 10 workers provided them with proof of citizenship.  The homebuilders association says that construction companies are not trained to verify if workers are properly documented.

But, IRON says it can be done easily by using the Department of Homeland Security's E-verify system, or running a criminal background check.