Immigration bills having a tough time in session

published on Wednesday, March 4, 2009 10:23 PM MST

By DANIEL PERSON Chronicle Staff Writer

HELENA - State-level attempts at immigration reform are receiving some support this session, but the Montana Legislature is still a frosty place to attempt a crackdown on undocumented workers in the United States.

The Senate on Wednesday thwarted a bill that would have criminalized a number of interactions with illegal aliens in Montana, including knowingly transporting illegal aliens into the state and concealing them from detection, in some cases making the transgressions a felony. The bill also would have allowed the state to seize property connected to the violation.

The Senate voted 29-20 against Senate Bill 379, sponsored by Sen. Gary Perry, R-Manhattan.

In failing to pass, Perry’s bill joined most other immigration bills introduced this session.

In the Senate, bills attempting to keep vehicle registration and some workers compensation away from undocumented workers have failed to gain traction. In the House bills introduced by Rep. David Howard, R-Park City, have also been defeated.

Perry’s frustration was evident after Wednesday’s floor vote.

“My impression is that we, overall, don’t seem to be as law abiding as I thought we were,