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Bill Would Allow Seizure of Firms Hiring Illegals

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Saying illegal immigrants are lured to the U.S. by the promise of jobs, an Orange County lawmaker unveiled legislation Monday that would allow local law enforcement officials to seize the assets of California businesses that repeatedly hire undocumented workers.

Assemblyman Tom Umberg (D-Garden Grove) said he planned to introduce the bill this week and expects it to get broad support in both houses of the Legislature before the session ends Sept. 10.

Under Umberg’s proposal, businesses with five or more employees would be subject to fines for a first violation. If a second violation occurred, a business could be seized, much as law enforcement agencies can take the assets of drug dealers. Third and subsequent violations would yield criminal charges.

“Until we dry up the supply of jobs, we’re not going to deal with illegal immigration,” Umberg said.

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But Republican leaders suggested that the proposal, which basically would toughen federal penalties in existence since 1986, would only punish business while failing to recognize that government health and welfare programs are a potent magnet for illegal immigration.

“I think we need to get our own house in order before we start closing down businesses right and left,” said Assemblyman Curt Pringle (R-Garden Grove). “The issue we have to address here in Sacramento has to do with the way our government provides incentives that lure illegal aliens to California.”

Pringle noted that the federal government has sanctions against businesses that hire illegal immigrants, but said that efforts to enforce the law have been curtailed because workers can easily obtain phony documents to convince employers that they are in the country legally. Pringle said local and state law enforcement agencies do not have the manpower to crack down on businesses that hire illegal immigrants.


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