SEPTEMBER 25, 2007
Indicating that perhaps itâ??s finally cracking down on states that defy federal immigration laws, the U.S. government is suing Illinois for banning use of a federal system to check the legal status of workers.
The Department of Homeland Security announced recently that it would begin fining employers who hire illegal immigrants as well as those who donâ??t fire workers caught using fake Social Security numbers. Reluctant to abide by the new rules, Illinois passed legislation prohibiting the use of a federal database utilized to verify identities and therefore detect illegal workers.
Signed into law by Governor Rod Blagojevich last month, the measure actually prevents the stateâ??s 750 employers that currently participate in the federal program from continuing to do so. The Illinois law is scheduled to take effect in January 2008 and would clearly protect the stateâ??s large illegal immigrant population which is estimated to be around 500,000.
In an effort to block its implementation, the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit (United States of America vs. the State of Illinois) in federal court this week. The suit seeks to invalidate the state law because it hampers the governmentâ??s ability to assist employers in making sure their workforce is legal. More importantly, as Justice Department attorneys point out, the Illinois measure conflicts with federal law.
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff called the Illinois measure a â??direct assault on federal lawâ? and the boldest â??anti-enforcementâ? measure he has seen. Perhaps the federal government will start going after the nationâ??s illegal immigrant sanctuary cities and the nine states that offer driverâ??s licenses to illegal aliens since they too are defying federal law.
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