Texas, Utah Continue Push for Tougher Enforcement Legislation

Written by FAIR

March 14, 2009

On Thursday, February 26, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott issued a legal opinion that concluded that a proposed state law that would suspend the business license of any employer that hires illegal aliens would be constitutional under federal law.  The AG found that the legislation proposed in Texas - which closely mirrors an Arizona law - does not conflict with the federal government's constitutional role in immigration matters.  (Office of the Attorney General of Texas, February 26, 2009; The Dallas Morning News, February 27, 2009). 

The legislation is currently pending in the Texas state legislature and, if passed, would provide the state with additional enforcement measures to ensure employers are not hiring illegal aliens, but instead hire only workers who are authorized to work in the United States.

Meanwhile, on Monday, March 2, Utah lawmakers rejected a last-minute attempt by supporters of illegal immigration to delay implementation of legislation which strengthened in-state enforcement measures and barred illegal immigrants from receiving state benefits.  Senate Bill 81, which is set to go into effect on July 1, 2009, includes provisions that: (1) require that public employers and state contractors use a "Status Verification System" to confirm that newly hired  employees are eligible to work in the United States; (2) make it illegal for an employer to discharge U.S. citizen workers and replace them with illegal workers; (3) mandate applicants for public benefits demonstrate legal presence in the United States; and (4) empower local law enforcement to inquire about the citizenship and immigration status of arrestees.  (Utah State Bar, July 16, 2008).  The attempt to postpone implementation of the new law until July 1, 2010 died when the committee lacked enough votes to send the bill to the Senate floor.  (The Salt Lake Tribune, March 3, 2009).

Also on March 2, the Utah House of Representatives passed House Bill 64 by the overwhelming margin of 69-5.  If passed in its present form, House Bill 64 would create a state Attorney General-run Fraudulent Documents Identification Unit, the primary goal of which would be to pursue and prosecute immigration-related fraudulent document cases.  This bill is currently being considered by the Utah Senate.  (Utah House of Representatives, H.B. 64 Substitute Bill Tracking, March 4, 2009; KCPW Radio, March 4, 2009; The Salt Lake Tribune, March 5, 2009).  Utah's legislative session ends on Thursday, March 12.

The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) is a national, nonprofit, public-interest, membership organization of concerned citizens who share a common belief that our nation's immigration policies must be reformed to serve the national interest.

FAIR seeks to improve border security, to stop illegal immigration, and to promote immigration levels consistent with the national interest-more traditional rates of about 300,000 a year.

With more than 250,000 members and supporters nationwide, FAIR is a non-partisan group whose membership runs the gamut from liberal to conservative.Our grassroots networks help concerned citizens use their voices to speak up for effective, sensible immigration policies that work for America's best interests.

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