Lawmakers Debate Illegal Workers
A new bill would crack down on contractors who hire undocumented workers.
Democratic Representative Ed Wildberger hears Missouri workers talking about illegal immigrants taking their jobs.
Now, Wildberger is trying to pass a bill to get those jobs back.
"The Missouri workers who have come to me and said we are losing our jobs...we're sitting on the bench waiting to be called out to go to work while illegals are working for contractors and subcontracting jobs," Wildberger said.
The current law says contractors cannot hire illegal immigrants, but there is no punishment for violating the law.
If passed, the bill will fine contractors $10 per illegal worker every day they are on the job. While $10 may seem like pocket change for large contractors, they will also be unable to bid on any publicly financed project for ten years.
However, some believe that the law doesn't go far enough to make sure workers are U.S. citizens.
"If we still just require, for that validation, three documents that are already required, then, the question is, how does that add to the teeth," Republican Representative Ed Emery said.
While the debate continues, both sides agree that illegal immigration needs to be tackled soon.
Wildberger said he does not expect the bill to pass through the House because it came up so late in the legislative session, but he hopes that immigration reform will be in the forefront next year.