The state Senate is about to spend some time talking about immigration.
Two bills dealing with the issue, House Bill 87 and District 27 state Sen. Jack Murphy’s SB 40, soon will head to the Senate floor.
There are some differences between the proposals, which is why Murphy thinks both will end up in a conference committee to merge them into one comprehensive bill.
“Once we get the two bills together, I think we will be able to couple them and take parts of each bill and come up with a compromise-type bill that makes more sense,” he said.
Murphy’s bill would require private and public employers to use the E-Verify program for all new hires. Several changes relaxing the language were made to the bill before it was passed out of committee.
Under the bill, private employers who don’t use the federal work authorization program wouldn’t be able to claim their employees for an annual business expense tax deduction.
The bill excludes businesses with four or fewer employees.
It also would require all immigrants carry proof of residency, which law enforcement officers would check for anyone who commits a criminal offense, including a traffic violation.
If they were unable to prove their status, the officers could take any action allowed by state and federal law.
That would include “detaining such suspected illegal alien, securely transporting such suspect to any authorized federal or state detention facility, or notifying the United States Department of Homeland Security or successor agency.”
HB 87 is more thorough. It would not only allow officers to verify immigration status of criminal suspects, it also seeks to penalize people who transport or harbor illegal immigrants.
Also, it would make it a penalty to willfully and fraudulently present false documentation when applying for a job.
The House bill also calls for some sizeable fines, including one for up to $20,000 for those transporting illegal aliens for profit.
Someone who commits “aggravated identify fraud,” or willfully uses a false identity to obtain employment, would face fines of up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Murphy said both bills “say some of the same things.”
“I don’t think the governor really wants to be signing a lot of different immigration bills,” he said. “So we’re just going to have to wait until conference committee and see what we can agree on.”
Melissa Weinman of the FCN regional staff contributed to this report.