In a move to protect local jobs, the Town of Oologah now prohibits the employment of unlawful workers within town limits.
Prior to passage of an ordinance, which totes a hefty fine for violators, Mayor Jerry Holland made a statement regarding illegal workers.
“It has been brought to my attention that many local jobs are being eliminated due to unscrupulous contractors who use illegal workers,” Holland’s statement said. “The figure that has been thrown out in the media is 35 percent savings to the contractor.
“Not only is this having an impact on our local labor force, it will impact generations to come.”
According to Holland, the jobs he spoke of are mainly in the construction field, but he fears it will grow to the manufacturers, causing more problems for legal workers to find employment.
“This is destroying a way of life in the United States,” he said. “Young people won’t have a chance to find employment if they have to compete with illegal workers who are paid less.”
Holland said he is hoping other municipalities will consider passing similar laws.
“I’m hoping other mayors will jump on the train and involve the legislation,” he said. “Our way of life will be affected if something isn’t done. I want the politicians to understand there is a problem.”
He added that he is not anticipating any repercussions from the passage of the ordinance nor any complaints.
“To my knowledge, no illegal workers are in Oologah,” he said.
The Oologah ordinance makes it unlawful for any business to “recruit, hire for employment, or continue to employ, or to permit, dispatch or instruct any person who is an unlawful worker to perform work in whole or part within the Town.”
Businesses within the town limits that apply for a business permit must now sign an affidavit stating they do not knowingly employ unlawful workers.
An unlawful worker is described in the ordinance as a person “who does not have the legal right or authorization to work ... including a minor disqualified by nonage, or an unauthorized alien.”
Before any violations of the ordinance can be determined, there must be a written complaint submitted to the Oologah Police Department, which can be submitted by a town official, business or resident.
A “valid” complaint must include the alleged violator, along with the actions which would violate the ordinance, and the date and location where the actions took place.
Even though the ordinance specifically targets illegal aliens or unlawful workers, any complaints that are based on national origin, ethnicity or race are invalid and will not be pursued.
After a complaint is received, the town clerk will request identity information from said business, within three business days, regarding any illegal workers. Business permits will be suspended if the request is not fulfilled within the three days.
In cases where the unlawful worker is alleged to be an illegal alien, the town clerk will submit identity information to verify such person’s immigration status through the federal government.
Once the business provides the necessary information to the town clerk, including an affidavit stating what measures were taken to end the violation, business permits will be deemed valid. In the case where two or more unlawful workers are verified to be illegal aliens, the business will have to submit documentation that the business is enrolled in the Basic Pilot Program.
The Basic Pilot Program allows employers to confirm employment eligibility of all newly hired employees and protects jobs for authorized United States workers. It began in 1997, and is now used all across the U.S.
The ordinance also states that all agencies of the town shall enroll and participate in the Basic Pilot Program.
A second or subsequent violation will result in a 20 day suspension of a business permit, until the required documentation is received by the town clerk.
Enforcement of the ordinance will come through the Oologah Police Department and the town clerk and includes a fine of not more than $200 per day.