Topeka Companies convicted of hiring illegal workers would be ineligible for state contracts or benefits for five years under legislation being considered by the House Commerce Committee.
Rep. Nile Dillmore, who sponsored the bill, told the committee Friday that undocumented workers were taking jobs from American citizens and legal immigrants.
"I've heard there are 50,000 undocumented illegal aliens in the state, though that number is fuzzy," said Dillmore, D-Wichita. "What brings these people to our state? Jobs. They're not coming here because of the weather."
But Elias Garcia, executive director of the Kansas Advisory Committee on Hispanic Affairs, said undocumented workers were employed in jobs that employers had difficulty filling.
Garcia said the bill "targets a group of people in Kansas that invariably and mainly consist of Hispanic and Latino individuals."
Those workers, he said, "are an invaluable and irreplaceable resource to the business community, a community that has had a common and longstanding industry practice of utilizing this human capital."
No action was taken on the proposed legislation.