Thursday, March 5, 2009

Attorney General’s Opinion Clears the Way for Illegal Immigration Legislation

Requested opinion advises legislature they have the authority to sanction employers who intentionally hire illegal immigrants in order to have an unfair competitive advantage
AUSTIN – Late Thursday, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office advised the Texas Legislature that they do indeed have the authority to sanction businesses who knowingly hire illegal immigrants. The opinion request by Chairman Frank Corte and Senator Dan Patrick asked:
“If Texas legislation (1) provided for the suspension or revocation of the business licensure of employers of unauthorized aliens; (2) relied solely upon a federal determination of immigration status; and (3) did not impose civil or criminal sanctions, would the law be permissible under the U.S. Constitution?”
The opinion in its entirety can be found at this link. Below is the summary section from the Attorney General’s opinion:
“If the Texas Legislature were to enact a statewide licensing statute that closely tracks the Legal Arizona Workers Act, and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals were to adopt the reasoning of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, such a statute would be upheld on the grounds that, as a licensing statute, it is within the exception to the Federal Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.”
“I am pleased with General Abbott’s opinion,” Senator Patrick remarked. “This opinion gives us the green light to level the employment playing field in Texas,” Patrick offered.
“Now it is up to us in the Texas Legislature to pass a law to make sure employers play by the same rules,” said Senator Patrick. “Unscrupulous employers who knowingly hire illegal workers, do not pay taxes, and do not ask for documentation, in order to create an unfair advantage, should be held accountable by the state. Play by the rules or be prepared to face serious consequences,” Senator Patrick concluded.

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