Monday, February 25, 2008

Jetton offers thoughts on what to do to employers who hire illegal immigrants

Speaker of the House Rod Jetton offered more thoughts on illegal immigration during his most recent capitol report. This time, Jetton wrote about the problem of what to do with businesses which hire illegal immigrants:

This whole month I have talked to you about illegal immigration in Missouri. From the very beginning I have stated that it is up to the Federal Government to secure our nation's borders to stop the flow of illegals. However, Missouri can remove the incentives illegal immigrants have for coming to our state. In the House we are working hard to do just that.

Last week I gave you figures that showed the cost of illegal immigration in our state. I already told you about the effort to keep illegals out of Missouri colleges, from collecting public benefits, and finally how we should give law enforcement the tools they need to find the immigration status of possible illegals. The one topic I have not touched on yet has been keeping businesses from employing illegal immigrants.

Now this is a complicated subject because of the nature of contracting and sub-contracting. Many businesses will contract out work to other businesses. Some of those businesses will in turn sub-contract work to other businesses. So if the sub-contractor of the contractor is employing illegal immigrants who should be punished?

This question has been the sticking point for meaningful illegal employer reform in the past. I believe that businesses should only be held accountable for employees they personally and directly hire. Therefore, a sub-contractor should be punished for knowingly hiring illegal immigrants, not the business they sub-contract for.

The whole issue can be complicated, but it is important to remember another facet of the issue. We do not want to make our business leaders and owners into INS agents. We do want to seem them follow the law and not hire illegal immigrants, but we can not ask them to do the job of the government.

I believe our businesses should follow a simple policy, if a person is an illegal immigrant then don't hire them. If you knowingly hire the illegal immigrant then you will be punished by the state government. If you sub-contract work and they knowingly hire an illegal immigrant then the sub-contractor should be punished.

What should that punishment be? It should be heavy enough so as to not encourage businesses to hire illegals again. Right now Committee on Immigration is studying what the punishment for hiring illegals should be and what steps employers should take to verify the immigrant status of a worker should be.
Combating the employment of illegal immigrants is a tough issue. On one hand we do not want to see businesses hire illegals and thus provide an incentive for them to come to Missouri. On the other hand we do not want to turn our businesses into INS agents and stifle their economic growth through increased rules and regulations. My goal has always been to cut the red tape, not to add to it. A balance needs to be reached between employers and their role in checking the status of illegal immigrants.

We also need to remember to encourage legal immigration to Missouri. Our state is growing and our industries have plenty of jobs that need filled by new workers. While I hope for the end of illegal immigration in Missouri I want to see an increase in legal immigration of new workers to help our economy to continue to expand.

By removing the incentive illegal immigrants have to coming to Missouri we can end the flow of undocumented, illegal people from coming into our state. Until the Federal government does their job and protects our borders Missouri will have to take the lead and remove the incentive illegals have for coming to our state.

No comments: