Immigration law under fire in Oklahoma

By: Teddy Safo Email
By: Teddy Safo Email

ARDMORE, OK -- A controversial immigration law recently passed by Oklahoma Legislators is coming under fire again, this time by a man who says it's bad for business.

Oklahoma City labor law attorney Bill Wells says the immigration law passed in November not only hurts employers, it conflicts with federal law.

"What Oklahoma employers are running into is not only having to comply with federal law but also complying with state law. In some cases, the state law arguably is in conflict with or in violation with federal law," Wells explains.

Section 3 of Bill 1804 makes it illegal in the state of Oklahoma to knowingly hire, harbor, or transport an illegal alien, which makes it difficult for Ardmore contractor Lance Windel to hire employees.

"I use subcontractors a lot, and the subcontractor is not allowed to check their eligibility to work in the United States based on federal law. Now state law is saying I have to check it," Windel says.

The new immigration law could also affect Windel because he is a landlord. Windel says now if he rents to an illegal alien, he could be committing a crime.

"The state law is telling me now if I’m harboring them I’m committing a felony. The feds say I can’t check; the state says if you’re doing it you’re committing a felony. I’m stuck."

Windel says now he has to choose which law to ignore, a choice Wells says local employers should not have to make.

"They're at a loss at what to do. If I comply with state law I’m potentially in violation of federal law or vice versa, and it’s a real nightmare because it’s having to choose the lesser of two evils," Wells says.

Both Wells and Windel encourage other employers to ask lawmakers to amend the state law.

In the meantime, Wells says if employers are worried they may be violating any law they should seek legal advice to see if they are in compliance, since each case is different.

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