Indiana already has some of the toughest penalties for businesses that knowingly hire undocumented immigrants, but a new bill will take the punishment a step further.
Republican State Sen. Mike Delph of Carmel introduced the legislation to the Indiana General Assembly on Jan. 7. If passed into law, it will institute a three-strikes-you’re-out policy against employers who repeatedly and intentionally hire undocumented workers, the Indy Star reports.
Delph designed the bill to “take away the jobs magnet and remove the financial incentive of unscrupulous business people who profit off of illegal immigration.”
Roughly 53,000 of the 93,000 undocumented immigrants residing in Indiana are working, with 69 percent hailing from Mexico and Central America, according to the Migration Policy Institute.
24 percent of undocumented immigrants in the Indiana workforce have jobs in manufacturing, with 20 percent working in arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food services. However, only 18 percent of undocumented immigrants live below 50% of the poverty level.
Currently, Indiana business owners caught intentionally hiring undocumented workers can be stripped of tax breaks and federal fines. However, Delph’s bill would take away an employer’s Indiana business licenses if they are caught three times.
“It’s a much more severe consequence, and it’s the right consequence,” Delph told the Indy Star. “We need to root out this shadow world that exists where people think they’re coming into American freedom but really live in modern day American slavery.”
The bill has been co-signed by Republican State Sen. Phil Boots of Crawfordsville, who also serves as Chairman of the Senate Pensions and Labor Committee, an entity that must approve of the legislation before it can be put to a Senate vote.
However, Indiana businesses are resisting the bill, backed by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.
“We vehemently oppose it,” said Chamber President Kevin Brinegar, who added that “the punishment is too stringent for the crime.”
Another member of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, Mark Fisher, warned that the bill is “overly punitive and (it) risks jeopardizing the jobs of law abiding Hoosiers working to support themselves and their families.”
Fisher’s comment reflects the fear among Indiana Hispanics that their businesses will be racially profiled and badgered by investigations.
Delph countered that his bill includes a provision that anyone who files a false complaint about a business will be charged with a misdemeanor.
“We’re certainly not trying to target any specific group,” Delph added. “We’re trying to go after those that financially benefit from intentionally breaking the law.”