Topeka House Democrats on Thursday proposed a measure that they said would reduce illegal immigration in Kansas by focusing on employers.
“As long as illegal hiring continues in Kansas, illegal immigration will continue to be a problem,” said Rep. Valdenia Winn, D-Kansas City.
The proposal would require that businesses use the federal database E-Verify to confirm the residency status of workers.
House Democratic Leader Paul Davis of Lawrence said focusing on the workplace makes sense because people don’t come to the United States illegally to vote or attend a university.
“They come here to work,” he said.
The legislation also would enact penalties for employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers and prohibit those employers from bidding on government contracts for two years.
Similar proposals have been opposed in the past by the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and other industry groups, who say the bills would expose businesses to too much liability.
The Democrats said they believed their proposal was a common-sense approach. Davis criticized proposals sought by some Republicans to install an Arizona-type law that would authorize local law enforcement to arrest suspected illegal immigrants.