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There's been a lot of talk about whether forcing or inducing illegals to leave the country — go back to Mexico, for instance — would be bad or good for businesses in the U.S. and U.S. citizens.

Well, we're about to find out.

A new law has kicked in out in Oklahoma which makes it a felony to transport or shelter illegal aliens. So out in Oklahoma it is no longer legal to hire illegals of course, give them a ride or rent them an apartment.

Proponents of the law thought it would drive illegals out of the state and benefit U.S. citizens because employers would now be required to raise wages so that U.S. workers would take jobs illegals are now doing cheap.

Well, one part of the new law is evidently working: Illegals are streaming out of Oklahoma.

Nobody's got a hard and fast number, but anecdotal evidence suggests that business that depended on illegals no longer have workers.

A story in USA Today tells of a nursery that overnight lost all 40 of its workers — one day they were there, the next day they were gone.

So is Oklahoma going to be better off when the nursery hires 40 workers at wages that will probably be double? Or, put it another way, will the nursery be better off getting along with half its workers? Or put it yet another way, will the nursery's customers be better off with higher prices to pay for the new hired help?

And, by the way, Thursday in Texas the owner of a lawn-care company was arrested and charged with harboring an illegal who worked for him. This is an extreme case: The illegal killed a cop and the investigators are going after the guy who gave the illegal a job and a place to live. That employer faces 10 years in jail.

In Oklahoma, one businessman said the economic impact is going to be greater than the Dust Bowl. We'll see. But I predict when this shakes out many more Americans are going to favor higher levels of legal immigration and are going to insist that employers be allowed to bring in workers from elsewhere — Mexico for instance — legally.

That's My Word.

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