Thursday, April 3, 2008

A new employer-enforcement measure is being considered by the South Carolina state legislature. This measure requires employers to variously certify the legal status of their employees and allows for South Carolina municipalities to pass their own enforcement rules:

The House and Senate offered competing proposals and members of both chambers had to work out the differences using a conference committee.

Under the compromise, public agencies and businesses with public contracts would have to check employees' legal status with a driver's license or a federal Internet-based program. Private businesses could use a third option, the federal Employment Eligibility Verification form - commonly called the I-9 - to verify that employees are authorized to work in the country.

Critics argue the form spurs illegal immigration because federal law doesn't require verification of the documents used to complete it.

Sanford and others have claimed this third method will allow illegal workers to get away with using fake documents. Sen. Jim Ritchie, head of the conference committee, believes their worries are addressed by part of the compromise that says any business owner who knowingly hires an illegal immigrant could be charged with filing a false statement, a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

Also under the compromise, local governments could pass immigration laws as long as they don't violate federal law or conflict with state law.