Bills target undocumented workers

Montana State Roundup

Published March 1, 2007  | March 2007 issue

No one is sure how many illegal immigrants have come to the state in recent years, drawn by jobs in food service, agriculture and tourism; estimates by the Census Bureau and various think tanks are subject to large margins of error. What is for sure is that enough undocumented workers have made their way to the Treasure State to raise concerns that they are taking away jobs from U.S. citizens and burdening social services.

Expressing frustration with the failure of the federal government to stem the tide of illegal immigration, several legislators have proposed state laws that crack down on illegal aliens, primarily by punishing businesses that hire them.

Two bills sponsored by Sen. Jim Shockley, R-Victor, hit employers of illegal immigrants squarely in their pocketbooks. One measure would bar the state from issuing contracts to companies that employ undocumented workers; the other would prohibit employers from claiming wages paid to illegal workers as a state tax deduction. Rep. Mike Jopek, D-Whitefish, has introduced a bill that would allow state officials to close a business after a third offense of knowingly employing illegal aliens.

Other bills in play this session would prohibit illegal immigrants from renewing certain occupational licenses, receiving public assistance and registering to vote.

Phil Davies