December 19, 2007
Jefferson City, Mo. — Two days after obtaining almost $1 million in a case against a Lake of the Ozarks developer who evaded payroll taxes on illegal immigrants he hired, Attorney General Jay Nixon today proposed legislation to impose sanctions on Missouri employers who use undocumented workers. Nixon said he would work with the General Assembly to enact legislation that would suspend businesses using undocumented workers for first offenses and permanently bar second-time offenders from doing business in Missouri.
“It is the lure of a job that attracts undocumented workers to our state,” Nixon said. “Getting tough on the employers who use undocumented workers to gain an unfair advantage over their law-abiding competitors must be a top priority. Any effort to combat illegal immigration that refuses to crack down on the employers who hire undocumented workers might sound good, but cannot work.”
Nixon said the sanctions would provide a powerful incentive for employers to verify that their employees are in Missouri legally and an equally powerful disincentive to break the law. The proposal is modeled after an Arizona law scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2008.
To help catch violators, Nixon is also proposing that an incentive system be in place for citizens who provide information to local or state authorities that results in sanctions. Comparable to the incentive system enacted last year by the General Assembly that gives a portion of recoveries to those who assist in health care fraud cases, Nixon’s proposal would provide an incentive from a portion of the proceeds of related law enforcement actions. Earlier this year, Nixon put an Employer Accountability Form on his Web site, ago.mo.gov, that enables Missourians to report employers who engage in illegal activity, such as hiring illegal immigrants, failing to provide workers’ compensation insurance, or evading taxes.
The proposal follows one of the strongest enforcement actions ever taken by the State of Missouri against an employer who was using illegal immigrants. On Monday (Dec. 17), condominium developer Michael Schlup was ordered to pay more than $980,000 in a case prosecuted by Nixon’ office and the Camden County prosecutor. Schlup, who had as many as 30 illegal immigrants working on his projects, pleaded guilty to 14 counts related to his not withholding or remitting payroll taxes.