Inola’s city attorney is taking a close look at a proposed town ordinance that would, if adopted, penalize landlords and businesses who rent or hire illegal immigrants.
Area resident Brian E. Sparling brought the ordinance proposal before the Town Board last week because he believes something needs to be done to protect the small, rural Rogers County town’s way of life.
Sparling said he patterned the ordinance after one adopted earlier this year in Hazelton, Penn.
“I believe I have improved upon it,” Sparling said. His proposed ordinance would not only cover residents inside Inola city limits, but would extend to the outer boundaries of Inola’s fenceline. A town fenceline is a predetermined boundary for future town growth.
Sparling has also suggested the town should make English Inola’s official language.
“It may not be going on in the city proper because they are so tiny,” Sparling said.
“I listen to radio, hear about problems they are having in Tulsa, even in Claremore, and I have talked with construction workers who say they are having problems because some contractors are hiring illegals for less money,” Sparling said.
“The easiest way to head it off, to not have a problem is to take care of it before it happens,” Sparling said.
Inola’s Board of Town Trustees, along with Mayor Cheryl Charles, agreed to seek City Attorney Tommy Dyer, Jr.’s legal opinion on Sparling’s proposed ordinance.
“I’m more than willing to listen to anything,” Charles said.
The Mayor said before the Town Board can consider anything, “We have to make sure it doesn’t conflict with anything or state law.”
Charles said she saw where the Tulsa City Council is also looking into ways to prevent businesses from hiring illegals. Local legislation on the matter is becoming a popular grassroots movement by many communities across the Midwest.
However, Charles said, “I don’t really see an over population of Hispanics here. We have a lot of people with olive skin, but we are [American] Indians.”
Charles said Sparling actually lives outside the city limits.
“He just wants to bring us up to date on things that are happening in our county,” Charles said.
“He seems to think we have the power to enforce within our fenceline, but that’s something our attorney is looking at.”
Sparling has lived in the Inola area for the last three and half years. He previously lived in Claremore for about a year.
“You read the paper and stuff, and what’s happening in Tulsa and we are not that far out,” Sparling said. He doesn’t lay the blame on any particular crime or business practice, but said the issue of illegal immigrants is “everything combined to make an environment that really you don’t want.”
Charles said the Town Board will not consider the proposal again without a recommendation from Dyer, the city attorney.