April 28, 2008 08:58
Illegal immigrants are one of many lawmaker targets during the ongoing legislative session. GOP Rep. Tim Burns of Mandeville has legislation that would ban unauthorized aliens from renting property. Fellow Republican Rep. Brett Geymann of Lake Charles has another bill that would prohibit state agencies from contracting with businesses that employ illegals. Additionally, there are other measures that increase penalties for contractors violating hiring laws, create new tracking systems and force courts to pay for interpreters for non-English speaking persons involved in criminal trials. 

One of the more heated debates may come from legislation filed by Lafayette Rep. Joel Robideaux, who has no party affiliation. His House Bill 1233 would allow those with a J1 visa, provided to foreign citizens participating in an internship/exchange program, to take part in the Teachers’ Retirement System of Louisiana. The J1 visa is intended for students needing practical training that is not available in their home country.

Despite constitutional concerns (opponents believe the feds should be handling many of these issues), Louisiana isn’t the only state taking a swing at sovereignty right now. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, more than 1,100 immigration-related bills were introduced in 44 state legislatures during the first quarter of this year. A NCSL report found that the top three issues were law enforcement, employment and driver’s licenses or other identification.

It’s all happening because of polling numbers and the public’s demand for action. “The number of immigration-related measures demonstrates states’ willingness to respond to the public’s concerns in a time when Congress won’t,” says the NCSL report.