House rejects illegal immigration bill
By BEN NEARY Tuesday, February 12, 2008

CHEYENNE, Wyo. - A bill that sought to make it a felony to harbor or transport illegal immigrants in Wyoming died Tuesday when it failed to receive the required two-thirds vote for introduction in the House of Representatives.

Rep. Pete Illoway, R-Cheyenne, had sponsored the measure. Although Hispanic groups have criticized similar legislation in other states, he said the bill wasn't aimed at any particular ethnic group here.

"There's been a lot of comment on this particular proposal, and I felt that if the federal government won't do it, then the states at least need to take a look at what's termed illegal immigration," Illoway said.

Illoway's legislation was modeled after an Oklahoma law that took effect late last year.

In addition to making it a felony to harbor and transport illegal immigrants, the Oklahoma law places restrictions on employment and bars illegal immigrants from receiving non-emergency government aid.

Opponents of the Oklahoma law have said it has terrorized Hispanics there and driven thousands of people _ documented and undocumented workers alike _ from the state.

Rep. Keith Gingery, R-Jackson, said he agreed with Illoway about the issue, but opposed the bill as inappropriate for state government action. Gingery said that if Illoway wanted to run for Congress and pursue the issue there, he would support him.

Rep. Pete Jorgensen, D-Jackson, said he agreed illegal immigration is an important issue, but said that there wasn't time to address it in the budget session.

Rep. Floyd Esquibel, D-Cheyenne, said that while there was no doubt the country needs an immigration policy based on common decency, he said Illoway's proposal would put fear into innocent people, such as landlords and bus drivers.

Rep. Mary Gilmore, D-Casper, said it would be bad policy for the state to act on the immigration matter without hearing first from the federal government.

"Whether we want to admit it or not, these illegal immigrants provide services in the agricultural industry, in the food industry, and in construction," Gilmore said, adding that she doesn't perceive any problem with illegal immigrants in the state.

"Some of these illegal immigrant people are taking jobs that we deem undesirable," Gilmore said.

Illoway responded that there are existing procedures in law that allow immigration from other countries. He said he understood from Gilmore's comments, "that it's OK to be illegal and take jobs."

The bill failed by a vote of 30-30. ... p384g0.txt