Last week’s federal immigration raid at an East Tennessee slaughterhouse has prompted a state senator to draft legislation that would create harsher legal and financial punishments for employers who exploit immigrants living in the country illegally.
“If we’re going to have (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) coming in and creating orphans in our community, then somebody should have to bear the responsibility for that,” said Sen. Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville.
Yarbro proposed the legislation, which has three main parts:
* “Directly or indirectly” employing 50 or more undocumented immigrants would be a considered a Class E felony if the employer has “reason to know” their workers lack authorization to work in the country.
* If ICE agents were to detain or deport an employer’s workers, the appropriate district attorney would launch an investigation into whether any health, safety, tax, employment and wage theft laws were violated in the workplace.
* Employers convicted of knowingly hiring undocumented immigrants could be required to pay restitution to “the state, any local government, or any United States citizen” to cover costs “including lost wages and costs for the care and education of the dependents” of workers who are detained or deported.
The legislation comes in the form of an amendment to a controversial bill that would explicitly ban sanctuary cities in Tennessee and require local law enforcement to detain certain immigrants. Supporters of the bill say it’s necessary to ensure police don’t refuse ICE detainer requests.
Yarbro said he believes the initial bill “imposes an unfunded mandate on cities and places them at risk of violating the Constitution so Republicans can say they’re being tough on immigration.”
“But if we’re actually going to be tough on immigration,” he added, “we should target employers that are exploiting immigrant workers instead of cities that are just trying to ensure public safety.”
By Travis Dorman for KNOW NEWS
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