Two Sides of the Immigration Debate
The owner of a company that used to clean buildings for the state filed suit today saying he should not have lost his contract just because he had illegal workers. Governor Blunt wrote a letter to prosecutors earlier this week, urging them to enforce Missouri's immigration laws.
At the heart of the letter, Blunt writes, "Section 285.025 of the revised statutes of Missouri declares employers of illegal aliens ineligible for state tax credits, tax abatements or loans." It continues, "My administration stands ready to assist any prosecutor to the greatest extent allowed by law in bringing criminal charges against corporations or individuals who flout our federal and state laws by hiring illegal immigrants."
According to Blunt, county prosecutors who think a contractor employs illegal immigrants need to: check the Missouri accountability portal, a database that tracks what companies receive tax credits; contact the Missouri information analysis center for background checks; and contact local law enforcement agencies. Blunt's office says the letter is important because, up until now, prosecutors haven't gone after any employers.
But now one employer is going after Blunt. The owner of Sam's Janitorial Service is suing over canceled state contracts. An illegal immigration raid in March rounded up illegal immigrants who work for Sam's Janitorial. The same day as the raid, Governor Blunt issued an executive order that said, "If the state determines that a current contractor employs any persons who are not eligible to work in the United States in violation of federal law, the contractor shall be in breach of contract and the state may lawfully terminate the contract and suspend or debar the contractor from doing business [in] the state of Missouri." The order canceled the Sam's Janitorial contract with the state. Now, the owner claims monetary damages, plus pain and suffering.
"That's his business," says attorney David Moen. "That was his source of livelihood. That's how he provided for his family, and he lost it all."
"The governor is willing and ready to defend his executive order banning state contractors who knowingly work with illegal workers from providing services to the state in the courtroom or anywhere else," said Blunt spokesperson Jessica Robinson.
That word "knowingly" may be key...The Sam's owner says he didn't "knowingly" hire illegal workers. It'll be up to the parties to work that out in court. And the jury is still out with prosecutors on Blunt's letter.