Economic impact of HB 1804 estimated
BY GINNIE GRAHAM World Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
The state bankers
association says the loss
could be $1.8 billion.
If 50,000 immigrants leave Oklahoma, the state would lose about
$1.8 billion annually in productivity
and wages, according to a study released Tuesday by the Oklahoma
The group does not take a position on HB 1804, the state's new immigration law, said President and
Chief Executive Officer Roger Beverage.
The study was commissioned after the association began hearing
stories about banks seeing impacts
such as loan defaults and halted
"Bankers asked the question,
'Can we afford to do this? Does this
make sense?' " Beverage said. "That
is a question for the Legislature or
someone other than us. It is information we think makes sense to consider. Reasonable people will disagree
whether it's worth the savings."
House Bill 1804 makes it a crime
to knowingly hire, house or transport illegal immigrants and took effect Nov. 1.
Economists Russell Evans and
Kyle Dean, of Economic Impact
Group in Edmond, wrote and researched the study. The model used
is similar to one in Texas created
about two years ago.
"We're not saying that it is a good
bill or a bad bill," Evans said. "We
have no comment on that. But from
a purely economic standpoint, we
wanted to see look at what the cost
would be of removing them."
The Federation for Immigration
Reform has estimated Oklahoma
spends about $207 million a year in
public funds for illegal immigrants,
mainly for education, emergency
health care and incarceration.
The economists assume the number to be correct, Evans said.
Between 50,000 and 70,000 undocumented immigrants are estimated
to be living in Oklahoma, the study
states. The study gives a range of
impacts based on the number of immigrants who leave.
In the short term, the impact ranges from a $786 million annual loss if
25,000 immigrants leave, up to a $3
billion annual loss if 90,000 migrate
elsewhere, according to the study.
In the long term, Oklahoma would
lose between $637 million to $1.9 billion annually, the study states.
"If you don't enter the impact of
losing those workers into the
discussion, then I think the
discussion is somewhat distorted," Evans said.
"All we are trying to provide is what the lost outcome
of productivity and lost income of those workers would
More House Bill 1804 impact studies are expected,
"The academic community
was a little behind with everybody else," Evans said. "The
bill happened so fast and became law so fast that the discussion about the impacts of
the bill didn't begin until after
it had been implemented and
Rep. Randy Terrill, who
sponsored House Bill 1804,
disagrees with the study's
conclusions including the impact of unemployed legal residents being able to assume
Terrill, R-Moore, said the
immigration issue is about
more than just economics.
"It is about a fundamental
respect for the rule of law, upholding our state and national sovereignty and about the
immorality of employing
cheap, illegal alien slave labor," he said in a press release.
Sen. James Williamson, R-Tulsa, also disagreed with
the study. Williams said the
Oklahoma economy is showing no evidence of a negative
impact from the law.
Beverage said Oklahoma
banks remain strong in spite
of the challenges of the national credit crunch, depressed housing market,
subprime mortgage meltdown and the Federal Reserve predictions that some
community banks will fail in
the next couple of years.
"In addition, Oklahoma
banks have had to deal with
the practical ramifications of
the economic impact of
1804," Beverage said.
"You cannot confine the
economic impact of 1804 to
one sector of society or one
classification of workers.
Rather, it has an impact to
workers in a number of different areas."
Ginnie Graham 581-8376