In his weekly column, Gov. Matt Blunt addresses the legislation he signed recently toughening Missouri's immigration laws. He concludes the column with this note:
Missourians do not condone lawbreaking. Nor do we turn our head when someone tries to take advantage of others.
Apparently, that attitude does not apply to the Sunshine Law, the retention of e-mail, or for that matter to the governor himself.
Following is the text of the governor's column:
People from all over the globe come to our great nation to share our freedoms, and Missourians embrace the contributions that lawful immigration makes to our society.
Ours is a nation and a state of immigrants. That is why, to this day, America remains the most welcoming society in the world. Every year, we accept more immigrants than any other country in the world. And while we will always welcome legal immigrants, we must also defend the very values which have made America different, the values which make people from all over the world want to come here.
Illegal immigration is a serious problem in our country and state. It is not only an assault on the sanctity of our laws but -- in a post 9/11 world -- a potential threat to the safety of our citizens. Missourians have been waiting on Washington to take action on illegal immigration for years. As Washington has sat idle, problems and frustrations with illegal immigration have only increased.
That people yearn to come to America should not be surprising. America remains the greatest country in the world. It is here, more than anywhere else in the world that the words of our Declaration of Independence ring true. Here, in America, all men are created equal and endowed by our Creator with inalienable rights.
I recently signed a comprehensive immigration reform package enacting tough new laws to stem the tide of lawbreakers into our state. It authorizes the superintendent of the Highway Patrol to send patrolmen to federal immigration enforcement training. This will allow state law enforcement officials to work closely with federal ICE agents to apprehend illegal immigrants. It prohibits sanctuary cities within our state. Local law enforcement should never turn a blind eye to lawbreaking and this will ensure that no city or county government in Missouri decides otherwise.
The legislation prohibits the issuance of a Missouri driver license to an illegal immigrant, and creates new penalties for helping an illegal immigrant obtain a license by fraud.
It makes the transport and concealment of an illegal immigrant a felony punishable by up to one year in prison. It prohibits illegal immigrants from receiving welfare benefits provided by state or local government. It requires all public employers and all state contractors to use E-verify, an easy-to-use electronic system to check the immigration status of job applicants.
Most importantly, the legislation requires law enforcement to verify the immigration status of every person presented for incarceration within our state within 48 hours of the arrest. This puts my directive from last summer into state statute - binding local law enforcement and future governors.
Missourians do not condone lawbreaking. Nor do we turn our head when someone tries to take advantage of others. We enforce our laws. We defend law-abiding citizens. We reserve the benefits of citizenship for legal residents. And my administration will continue to take important, proactive steps to protect our state from unlawful immigration.