Sanctions for Hiring Illegals Worry Firms
By JIM KUHNHENN
The Associated Press
Friday, January 26, 2007
WASHINGTON — Business lobbyists believe lawmakers will ultimately strip from Senate minimum wage legislation any sanctions against companies caught hiring illegal immigrants. Whether they can keep it out of immigration law is another matter.
The Senate, by a 94-0 vote Thursday, inserted a federal contracting ban for businesses that violate immigration laws into a bill that would raise the federal floor on hourly pay from $5.15 to $7.25 over two years.
To become law, the Senate immigration provisions would have to be approved by House and Senate negotiators if and when they meet to reconcile differences between the House and Senate versions of minimum wage legislation. The House approved a minimum wage boost earlier this month.
The Senate vote was the new Congress’ first action on immigration legislation and the overwhelming outcome was a strong signal that, even if removed, it could find its way back into legislation again.
Angelo Amador, director of immigration policy for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, predicted the contracting ban would not likely survive inside a final minimum wage bill.
“I’m more concerned as to what is says for the immigration reform to come,” he said. “Reminds me of the Great Wall of America debate. Many complained about it, but most voted for it.”
Under the provision, offered by Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., companies caught hiring illegal workers while on a federal contract would be banned from government work for 10 years. Other companies discovered with illegal workers would be prohibited from getting federal contracts for seven years.