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Senator wants crackdown on companies employing illegal immigrants

A northern Idaho lawmaker has returned again with a bill that would crack down on Idaho employers who employ illegal immigrants.

Sen. Mike Jorgenson, R-Hayden Lake, presented his latest proposal to the Senate State Affairs Committee Jan. 29.

The committee agreed to hold a full print hearing on the far-reaching measure. But at least one other immigration bill has already been introduced in the Legislature this session, and several others are in the works.

Jorgenson’s bill would require Idaho companies with more than five employees to use a federal computer system to verify workers’ legal status; impose license suspensions or revocations for “knowingly” employing illegal immigrants; and allow citizens and businesses to file complaints with the state attorney general’s office. Companies could also have state contracts canceled.

Jorgenson said the key is the use of the federal computer system E-Verify, which can determine workers’ legal status mostly within minutes. In the case of false readings, job applicants have five days to bring in proper documentation. He said most illegal immigrants don’t come back.

“That’s the beauty of this legislation,” he said. “It creates what’s called ‘enforcement by attrition,’ or in other words self-enforced deportation.”

The Idaho Department of Transportation would also be prohibited from issuing licenses to illegal immigrants, while drivers’ licenses issued to illegal immigrants in other states would not be honored. The written portion of Idaho’s driving test would also have to be conducted solely in English with no help from a translator.

The bill would also create a felony for anyone who “conceals, harbors, or shields from detection in any place, including any building or means of transportation” illegal immigrants.

Jorgenson said he enlisted the help of Kris Kobach, a professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law, to draft the bill. Jorgenson said he would fly in Kobach at his own expense to testify at a full print hearing before the committee.

Lawmakers on the committee had some tough initial comments and questions.

Sen. Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum, worried about companies getting bogged down by false complaints from disgruntled employees.

Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis of Idaho Falls and other lawmakers wondered about hidden costs to local governments, the attorney general’s office and the State Tax Commission.

Sen. Kate Kelly, D-Boise, noted that the bill’s fiscal impact should include the likely cost of litigating the statute in court.

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One comment

  1. The key word in the bill is “ILLEGAL”! I just am not sure why the bill only goes down to 5? I think it should be 1! I understand the person trying to find work, no one can blame them. I also can understand the small business owner trying to save a buck. But I do think there are other ways to find labor. The government does have a responsibility to its citizens.