We were back in Oklahoma about a month after a tough anti-illegal immigration law went into effect. Even before the bill became law, there were anecdotal reports of immigrants leaving the state in anticipation of its passage.
Now, businesses like the construction industry, say they're hurting from a dearth of workers. Mike Means, who's with the State Builders Association, says its members are reporting an average 10 percent worker loss, some more, some less, depending on how many homes they build. Means says legal workers are leaving too. Say, for example, a legal worker has family members who are in the country illegally. He may decide to leave with his family rather than run the risk of them getting caught.
There's also been a trickle down effect for consumers. We talked with one new homeowner who said the completion of her house has been delayed. Her builder claims, it's because he can't get enough workers to be able to complete the job on time.
Other businesses are feeling the impact of the lost population. Some stores in predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods say fewer people in the neighborhood means fewer customers and fewer sales.
The lawmaker behind the bill says he's not surprised. He says getting illegal workers to leave is the whole point and if businesses and consumers are feeling the pinch, so be it. That's the price of enforcing the law. What's more, Oklahoma State Representative Randy Terrill promises he'll introduce even tougher follow-up measures in new legislation next year.
Maggie Lineback is a Dallas bureau producer.