January 26, 2007, - 10:46 am
By Debbie Schlussel
Well it’s about time.
The U.S. Senate voted, yesterday, unanimously to bar companies that hire illegal aliens from receiving federal contracts (like building the wall between the U.S. and Mexico). The ban would last seven years, unless a company was caught hiring illegals while it holds a federal contract–in that case, it’s 10 years.
The language was inserted in a bill to raise the minimum wage, so don’t cheer your Senator if he/she was one of the 94 to vote for it. They may have been voting for the legislation for the wrong reasons.
And, unfortunately, business lobbyists believe they can manage to get the alien-hiring ban removed from the final version of the bill once it reaches conference committee to be reconciled with the House version.
Of note is that business lobbyists are more concerned with that legislation than they are with the minimum wage legislation. Maybe that’s because with illegal aliens, they generally get around the minimum wage requirement altogether.
The ban was introduced by Alabama Republican Senator Jeff Sessions, and those who object are the usual suspects–the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, meat packing companies, etc:
The ban would not be subject to appeal in court, but the federal government could waive it for national security reasons. Companies that use a pilot electronic employment verification system would be exempt from the sanctions. Business groups complain the verification system is flawed.
“The Sessions amendments are comparable to using the nuclear option for a paperwork violation,” Jeffrey D. Shoaf of the Associated General Contractors of America wrote to senators in a last ditch attempt to kill the immigration provision. “These amendments will have ramifications well beyond immigration law, and would open the floodgates to using the procurement system as an enforcement mechanism for even first time paperwork violations.”
Others voicing opposition were the American Meat Institute, whose meat packing members have been frequent targets of immigration raids. Others who signed on to a letter of opposition included the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Homebuilders and the Associated Builders and Contractors.
Critics objected that the provision did not give businesses the opportunity to appeal the ban in court and said the national security waiver would place small businesses at a disadvantage.
“Who’s going to get the waiver and who’s going to get punished?” Amador asked. “They will go after the small businesses.”
The Sessions provision is similar to a ban on federal contracts contained in the Senate version of broad based immigration legislation last year. The bill died after the House and Senate could not reconcile their differences. This year, with Congress under Democratic control, immigration legislation stands a better chance of passage.
Thursday’s vote came just one week after immigration officials arrested 40 illegal workers hired by military contractors in three states. Last July, immigration officials arrested nearly 60 illegal immigrants at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.
“The vast majority of businesses carefully follow the law, but many of them unfortunately do not,” Sessions said. “Some are even contractors who are working on sensitive government contracts. Let me tell you, we have a problem.”
Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, a co-sponsor of the Sessions amendment, sent a letter Wednesday to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff questioning whether the government required its contractors and subcontractors to participate in the employment verification system.
“If they skirt the rules by hiring illegal aliens, they should face the consequences,” Grassley said.
Absolutely. Would love to see how many of DHS Chief Michael Chertoff a/k/a “Mr. Burns'” contractors employ illegal aliens. Time for an Inspector General investigation into that.
Tags: Alabama, America, American Meat Institute, Associated General, Associated General Contractors of America, Charles Grassley, Congress, Debbie Schlussel Well, DHS chief, federal government, Fort Bragg, Homeland Security Secretary, immigration law, Inspector General, Iowa, Jeff Sessions, Jeffrey D. Shoaf, Mexico, Michael Chertoff, National Association of Homebuilders and the Associated Builders, North Carolina, Senate, Senator, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, United States, United States Senate