KLA: Forum sheds light on true cost of state immigration legislation

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KLA was part of a business coalition hosting a forum yesterday in Topeka on the implications of potential state immigration legislation. About 125 people attended the forum, including more than 70 members of the Kansas Legislature. 

Featured speaker Kathleen Campbell Walker, an El Paso, TX, attorney specializing in immigration law, said the federal government has failed to address the issue, but should take immediate action. She said states cannot afford to assume the burden of immigration enforcement and may be constitutionally prohibited from doing so. The most notable state immigration law, in Arizona, has increased the burden on local government, including law enforcement, the court system and detention facilities. It also has led to the loss of millions of dollars in lost business.

Walker said employers already are burdened with doing the federal government’s job of checking the immigration status of potential employees. Many of the 216,000 U.S. businesses (out of 7.4 million total U.S. businesses) voluntarily using the government’s E-Verify system today have found it fails to detect all illegal immigrants and comes at a cost that limits employers’ ability to hire more workers.

“For the employer who’s trying to get it right, it’s not easy,” she said.

Walker suggested small businesses typically pay the most when mandatory immigration legislation is implemented. According to Bloomberg News Service, making E-Verify mandatory nationwide would cost small businesses $2.6 billion a year.

Several state immigration bills have been or are expected to be introduced in the Kansas Legislature. The Kansas Business Coalition does not support these proposals due to the adverse impact it would have on the state’s economy. According to the coalition, the Legislature shouldn’t consider proposals that grow government, cost business and place additional burdens on local units of government during already tough economic times.

Members of the coalition are urging the state to direct the Kansas congressional delegation to take the lead role in resolving immigration issues at the federal level.

For more information visit www.kla.org.

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