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Eye On Boise

Jorgenson unveils immigration bill

Sen. Mike Jorgenson, R-Hayden Lake, this morning introduced sweeping legislation aimed at punishing Idaho employers who knowingly employ undocumented immigrants, along with other measures including denying recognition of out-of-state driver’s licenses to those without legal immigration status. “The key language is ‘knowingly hire,’” Jorgenson said. He’s proposed versions of such legislation repeatedly without success, but said this year he worked with University of Missori-Kansas City law professor Kris Kobach to draft Idaho-specific legislation. Jorgenson said if his bill gets a full hearing, Kobach will come to Idaho to testify at Jorgenson’s personal expense.

Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls, looking through the 16-page bill, asked Jorgenson, “If this type of conduct is already unlawful under (federal law) is it necessary for Idaho to even have this statute?” Jorgenson responded that if the federal government isn’t adequately enforcing immigration laws, a state has “every right to use whatever means it has available to protect itself.” Under his bill, employers who knowingly employ undocumented aliens would face fines, jail time, and license suspensions. Idaho cities that declare themselves “sanctuary cities” to protect illegal immigrants would be ineligible for state funds. Also, no state or local public benefit could be provided to anyone who’s undocumented; lawmakers already passed legislation along those lines several years ago.

Another measure, SB 1271, already has been introduced by Sen. John McGee, R-Caldwell, to make it a misdemeanor for an employer to knowingly hire someone based on false immigration documents. Jorgenson said he considers that measure a “companion bill” to his legislation. “That bill addresses none of the issues that I addressed. I certainly would support that bill as well,” he told Eye on Boise.

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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