MAY 02, 2008
A judge has blocked lawmakers in a New York county from voting on a popular measure that would require contractors seeking county deals to verify that their employees are not illegal immigrants.
Although courts throughout the country have struck down laws created to curb illegal immigration, no judge has intervened before the measure was passed by essentially intercepting the democratic process.
Angering many lawmakers, Suffolk District Court Judge Carol Mackenzie issued an injunction this week preventing them from even voting on the proposed law for at least another month. The 18 members of the Suffolk County Legislature were set to vote on the bill when one member, Ricardo Montano, filed a petition claiming that the measure had passed a committee on an improper vote.
Now the county with a population of about 1.5 million will have to spend taxpayer money to get legal representation for future court proceedings relating to this issue. Considering the county is in the midst of economic difficulty, several lawmakers expressed outrage over the inevitable expense.
Some of the county legislators were angry at the judge, however. One pointed out that telling a legislature that it can’t act on something creates a dangerous precedent. He said it’s one thing for a court to say a law that was passed is illegal, but it’s quite another to tell elected officials, representatives of the people, that they can’t vote.
The law was introduced earlier this year by a Democrat lawmaker to maintain a level playing field for contractors that hire legal workers and pay taxes for those employees. Otherwise, unscrupulous contractors that avoid paying taxes by hiring illegal aliens, can submit lower bids on county contacts because overhead costs are lower.
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