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  1. #1
    Administrator Jean's Avatar
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    May 2006

    S.C.: House approves illegal immigration bill

    House approves illegal immigration bill
    By SEANNA ADCOX - Associated Press Writer
    May 7, 2008

    COLUMBIA, S.C. --The South Carolina House voted Wednesday to remove fines of up to $10,000 per worker from a bill intended to punish businesses that knowingly hire illegal immigrants, changing a key provision passed earlier by the Senate.

    The bill that passed 80-33 also removes employers' ability to use a new paper-based system created and audited by the state. Businesses could only verify a worker's immigration status using a federal database or state-issued identification.

    Gov. Mark Sanford had criticized both provisions of the Senate bill; he said the heavy fines would supercede federal law and that the House bill "provides for a real and meaningful employment verification process."

    Instead of heavy fines, the House version would suspend a company's business licenses for up to 30 days on a third offense. Businesses could be on probation for up to three years, meaning they would have to submit quarterly reports proving their compliance.

    "Our idea was to make people comply, not put them out of business," said Harrison, R-Columbia. "We think businesses want to comply."

    The measure returns to the Senate, which must decide whether to accept the changes. If it doesn't, the proposal will return to a conference committee for the second time this year. The Senate version passed last week broke an impasse between the chambers.

    Senate President Pro Tem Glenn McConnell said he's concerned about enforcing the House measure. On stripping the fines, he said, "I don't think lighter penalties are going to sell well over here."

    Democrats opposed the legislation, calling it election-year politics on an issue that should be handled by the federal government.

    "At the end of the day, there's not a thing we can do to fix the immigration problem because it's a federal problem. We can't pre-empt the federal government," said House Minority Leader Harry Ott.

    The St. Matthews farmer tried unsuccessfully to revert the bill back to what the House passed earlier this year, which dealt with public agencies and businesses with public contracts, but left out private employers. He said the state could hold public contracts up to a higher standard.

    "What I resent is that private industry is made out to the be the policeman and the fall guy. I don't think it's fair," Ott said. The bill will not persuade an illegal worker "to pack his bags and walk back to Mexico or wherever he come from. What we're doing is saying, 'You, Mr. Businessman, we're going to crack the whip on you.' That thing about being a pro-business state? Throw that down the river."

    Harrison argued the measure would put all businesses "on an equal footing," allowing businesses that don't hire illegals to better compete for jobs. When all businesses comply, he argued, "the immigrants will go somewhere else."

    The state Chamber of Commerce supported the Senate version and criticized the House's removal of a paper-based system that would allow small businesses without high-speed Internet to comply.

    "The last thing South Carolina needs is to become more risky for businesses," spokeswoman Marcia Purday said.

    The measure requires private businesses with 100 or more employees to begin verifying their employees' status by July 2009. Smaller companies must comply by July 2010. Companies that don't verify their employees could be fined up to $500 on third offense.

    The bill also:

    - Allows fired workers to sue their former employers if they're replaced by illegal workers within 60 days.

    - Creates a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, for falsifying documents.

    - Prevents local governments from passing their own immigration laws.

    - Bans illegal immigrants from attending public colleges and bars them from winning state scholarships.

    - Makes it a felony to transport or harbor illegal workers, though it provides exceptions for some charities, such as homeless shelters.
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  2. #2
    loneprotester's Avatar
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    Jan 1970
    Much has been written about the illegal immigration legislation in South Carolina lately but one thing stands out from all of it to me. I read a comment from a state senator the other day and he says that the employment laws only pertain to new hires. That means that the half million illegal alien invaders already here and working gets a free pass. So in my eyes this entire bill is useless. The politicians are only doing it because election time starts in June.

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