Illegal immigration creates a problem in our state, because it threatens the job security and services available for Missourians. The General Assembly is taking action that will make Missouri’s stance on illegal immigration clear. Last week the Senate passed SB858 and this week the House passed HB1549 which institutes policies that keep our state from becoming a safe-haven for illegal aliens.
Illegal immigration is a growing problem in our country and Washington has failed to act to protect our borders. Missourians are directly affected by the growing population of illegal aliens. The U.S. Census Bureau’s March 2005 population survey suggests that there are between 35,000-65,000 illegal aliens living in the state of Missouri. An Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) estimate from 2000 found that the illegal alien population in our state rose 38% in a four-year period and 175% in a ten-year period. In 2007, U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deported 8,900 illegal aliens from a six-state area that included Missouri.
Proposals under consideration in the legislation moving through the General Assembly are designed to deter illegal aliens from coming to Missouri. While some cities throughout the nation have adopted policies that would give illegal aliens sanctuary, Missouri will make it clear that this practice will not be tolerated. This legislation would prohibit municipalities within our state from granting sanctuary to illegal aliens. Any city, town, or village that does adopt such a policy would not be able to receive any state grants.
Allowing illegal aliens to receive a driver’s license wrongly validates their residency in this country. Other states have considered schemes that would allow illegal aliens to receive a driver’s license. Legislation this year will prohibit illegal aliens from obtaining a driver’s license from the Missouri Department of Revenue and specifies that a driver’s license issued to an illegal alien in another state would not be valid in Missouri. It also stipulates that commercial driver’s tests must be given in English without the benefit of a translator being present.
Our state provides public benefits such as housing assistance, food assistance, and unemployment for Missourians struggling to make ends meet. This legislation would require public assistance recipients to prove residency before receiving any benefits. The bill would work to make sure that illegal aliens in Missouri are not able to collect non-emergency public benefits.
This legislation also makes Missouri less appealing for taking advantage of illegal aliens for cheap labor. The legislation specifically states that employers are barred from employing unauthorized workers. Businesses that continue to do so would be subject to the suspension of their business permits and licenses. Violators under contract with the state would have their contracts voided and be barred from contracting with the state for three years. Contractors that continue to violate the measure would be permanently barred from contracting with the state. The bill also requires employers on state contracts or using state grants, loans, or tax credits to participate in a federal work authorization program in order to be eligible for state contracts. Public employers would also be required to participate in the program. These provisions also apply to general contractors and subcontractors and would make them potentially liable for instances such as illegal hiring fraud.
Unfortunately, Missouri cannot afford to wait for Washington to act on the issue of illegal immigration. Lady Liberty will continue to hold her lamp of freedom high with an outstretched arm to light the way “beside the golden door” that millions have already passed through legally. America will always welcome those who honor the fundamental principles of our Nation’s founding, but she will always recognize in Theodore Roosevelt’s words that, “Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all.”