Merits Of New Immigration Law Debated

Friday, December 7th 2007, 7:21 am
By: News On 6

House Bill 1804 only became law last month, but some lawmakers already want to start stripping away some of its powers. News On 6 anchor Omar Villafranca reports that several lawmakers who voted for the bill say the law is just experiencing some growing pains. Others say the measure is doing more harm than good.

State Senator Harry Coates (R-Seminole) voted against the state's new immigration law.

"What people don't seem to realize is that the chilling effect of this law has resulted in the loss of both documented and undocumented employees in Oklahoma,” said Senator Harry Coates.

The new law imposes stiff fines on businesses using undocumented workers. Coates introduced a bill that would repeal the fines. He says some businesses, those offering pay twice the minimum wage, can't find enough workers and could shut down.

Mel McGowan represents Aduddell Roofing Company.

“We struggle currently to find workers to fill our crews, domestic workers here,” Mel McGowan said. “These are not low-wage jobs; they're great jobs."

Coates says he still questions the motives behind the man who wrote the law, State Representative Randy Terrill.

“Representative Terrill has two motives that aren't entirely pure,” Coates said.

“That's the same sort of inflammatory rhetoric is neither constructive nor productive and it's frequently designed to avoid substantive debate on the merits of an issue that they know they will lose,” said Representive Randy Terrill, Republican from Moore.

Lawmakers who supported House Bill 1804 are starting to hear complaints from constituents when they go to renew their driver's license. Republican State Representative Sue Tibbs doesn't regret voting for the bill - even after she forgot to renew her license after the law went into effect.

“I got out my necessary papers that I thought would help me get through the system, and it didn't because it wasn't a birth certificate," Representative Sue Tibbs said.

Tibbs fixed her problem - and says the law doesn't need a major overhaul.

“We have agreed that perhaps we have to make some changes, with that particular part of the bill, but not repeal it," she said.

Senator Coates expects other bills to be introduced that will try and strip the current law of its power. At the same time, House Bill 1804's author is introducing another bill to strengthen the law.