The Iowa House of Representatives passed last week a bill to hammer illegal immigrants by requiring employers to check their employees, employees to carry driver’s licenses or other state-issued identification, and for bail to be denied for illegal aliens who are arrested. Local police must notify ICE. The House majority leader called the bill a symbolic statement. Ah?
The article in full:
By CHARLOTTE EBY, Courier Des Moines Bureau
DES MOINES — Trying to deal with an influx of illegal immigrants, the Iowa House moved forward Wednesday with a measure meant to reduce the employment of undocumented workers.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, D-Des Moines, said Democrats wanted to send a message to the federal government and try to deal with a problem Iowans have been concerned about.
“The symbolic statement is a plea to the federal government to start enforcing the law and have a comprehensive, logical immigration policy,” McCarthy said.
The measure, which cleared the House on an 84-16 vote, requires employers to check driver’s licenses or other state-issued photo identification from Iowa or the surrounding states and verify it within 10 business days of a hire. Employers or their designee must sign a form under penalty of perjury confirming they have examined the ID and “facially validated” the employee.
The measure also would mean aliens who are arrested would be denied bail, and local law enforcement agencies would be required to notify the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The measure seeks to stop employers from paying employees cash or misclassifying them as independent contractors. Backers say the practice has been used in the construction industry and means employees can’t get unemployment or workers’ compensation benefits.
Employers who misclassify employees could face misdemeanor criminal penalties.
Failure to follow the law could result in civil penalties, and those who make false statements or conceal material facts could be charged with a Class D felony and face a possible five-year prison term.
Reps. Elesha Gayman, D-Davenport, and Phil Wise, D-Keokuk, offered an amendment accepted by the House that would make it an aggravated misdemeanor for anyone to make or obtain identification cards that would assist an illegal alien in gaining employment.
Gayman said during the campaign voters asked what could be done about illegal immigration.
“Since our identification systems are run at a statewide level, I do believe that it is appropriate for our state to take action on this,” Gayman said.
Rep. Jamie Van Fossen, R-Davenport, doubted the sincerity of the bill’s sponsors, saying it would give lawmakers political cover. He voted for the bill, but argued the problem is with the federal government not enforcing the laws, not employers.
Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell, D-Ames, voted against the bill. She pointed to what she called a humanitarian crisis and reminded fellow lawmakers of Iowa’s tradition of lending a helping hand to immigrants.
“I wonder what I would do or any of us in this chamber would do if we were not able to feed our children. Would we break the law or would we allow our children to starve?” Wessel-Kroeschell said.
After approval in the House, the measure now moves to the Senate for consideration in the waning days of the session.
“We will take a look at what they’ve done,” said Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs.
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