Deanna Martin, AP, January 21, 2008
Companies could face strict penalties—including losing their business licenses—if they knowingly hire illegal aliens under a bill being considered by a Senate committee.
Bill sponsor Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, said Indiana is stuck with the public and social costs of illegal immigration because federal immigration law isn’t being enforced.
Dozens of people attended a hearing on the bill in Senate chambers Wednesday, and more than 40 signed up to speak about the proposal. The meeting lasted nearly four hours and will be continued this week to accommodate those speakers—mainly opponents—who did not get a chance to address the panel.
Also this week, lawmakers could consider several amendments to the bill, including one that would make the law applicable only to companies with more than 100 employees. A vote could be taken this week, said Sen. Dennis Kruse, a Republican from Auburn who heads the Senate Pensions and Labor Committee.
The bill in current form would set up a three-tier punishment system for employers who knowingly hired illegal aliens after July 1, 2009. With three violations in 10 years, a company could lose its business license.
About 55,000 to 85,000 unauthorized aliens live in Indiana, according to 2006 estimates from the PEW Hispanic Center. Mitch Roob, secretary of the state Family and Social Services Administration, told lawmakers that Indiana taxpayers spend about $5 million a year for Medicaid health care for illegal aliens, with more money coming from the federal government.
“The taxpayers of Indiana are paying money for illegal aliens that they shouldn’t have to pay,” said Robert Marsh, from Anderson. “We have a problem in Indiana.”