A Mississippi House bill passed Thursday afternoon places the burden of responsibility for illegal immigration on the employers of the state
Thursday’s 80-36 vote came after a short explanation and no debate.
The bill would also allow law officers to check people’s immigration status during traffic stops or other encounters.
However, the business community has now been placed squarely at the forefront of the immigration debate as the House bill calls for fines of a minimum of $5,000 per day per employee to a maximum for $25,000 per day per employee.
And that applies to small and large businesses as well as everyday citizens, who might have an undocumented housekeeper or lawn service worker.
Businesses found to have broken the law would lose all tax breaks and incentives provided for them and a clawback provision would force previous offenders to pay back money already credited to them over a period of time.
“Illegal aliens are not coming to Mississippi to sell drugs,” David Norquist (D-Cleveland) said Thursday afternoon. “They are here to make money and send that money out of Mississippi and back to Mexico to support their families and the economies of the towns the families live in.
“What we have here with this bill is the penalties have to outweigh the risk of hiring illegal aliens,” Norquist continued. “If employers weren’t hiring illegal aliens, there wouldn’t be an illegal alien issue in Mississippi.”
With the shift of emphasis from law enforcement to Mississippi employers, the bill would make a fund in which all of the fines, from $5,000 to $25,000 a day, would go to re-imburse officials enforcing the law.
This leaves Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant in a precarious position as this bill moves into the Senate.
Does Bryant back the bill, which is tough on immigration?
Or will Bryant back the business community and water down or kill the bill?
On the enforcement side, the state auditor will have the authority to chase offenders, which leaves open the possibility of Howard Industries having to pay back more than $3 million in incentives after a human resources manager was charged after a sweep saw 595 illegal aliens placed on administrative arrest. Of those arrested, nine were charged criminally with aggravated identity theft and ultimately pled guilty to federal identity fraud charges.
Pro-business organizations, like the Mississippi Economic Council, the Mississippi Manufacturers Association, the Associated Builders and Contractors of Mississippi as well as BIPEC (Business and Industry Political Education Committee) are certain to take a hard stand against the bill.
Meanwhile, organizations like the Tea Party are likely to support the bill as hard on illegal immigration.