Far-reaching Anti-Immigrant Bill Introduced

by

The Senate State Affairs Committee this morning has agreed to hearings on a far-reaching bill that cracks down on employment, licensing and public services to undocumented immigrants in Idaho. The bill is being sponsored by Sen. Mike Jorgenson, who brings similar legislation almost every year.

Jorgenson got his bill this year from Kris Kobach and his law school class at The University of Missouri - Kansas. Kobach, who worked for former Attorney General John Ashcroft, and was recently profiled in the New York Times, is on a crusade to fight illegal immigration at the local level. According to the New York Times, Kobach is partially paid by the legal arm of FAIR, a well-known anti-immigration group.

Jorgenson's bill, according to the print hearing this morning, would prohibit Idaho employers from hiring people illegally in the U.S., negate driver's licenses issued to "aliens" in other states, limit Idaho's driver's test to English only, reinforce the E-Verify system for checking work documents and make "sanctuary cities" in Idaho ineligible for state grants.

Senators questioned Jorgenson's fiscal note pointing out that many state agencies and local jurisdictions would be swept up in enforcing the measure. Jorgenson cited a figure from FAIR that without this bill, Idaho will pay out $148 million in services to undocumented immigrants this year and asserted that he believes it will be closer to $200 million.

There was no discussion of the contribution of illegal workers to the economy or to the state coffers.

The committee agreed to print the bill and hold a hearing.

The Canyon County delegation, three Republican senators, have also introduced SB 1271, which provides increased penalties for using or accepting false documentation in obtaining work.