TRENTON – Senate Majority Leader Stephen M. Sweeney today said he will sponsor legislation to punish New Jersey firms that knowingly hire illegal aliens.
“Companies that knowingly hire illegals are destroying job opportunities for the working men and women of New Jersey,” said Senator Sweeney, D-Gloucester, Salem and Cumberland. “The practice has to be stopped.”
First-time offenders would have their licenses to do business in New Jersey suspended for 10 days and second offenses would carry permanent revocations under the proposal currently being drafted, Senator Sweeney said.
“New Jersey should welcome legal immigrants with open arms, but we need to put up a stop sign for illegals who undermine family, educational and health care support systems,” said Senator Sweeney.
The measure is being crafted to take effect by the end of this year at which point employers would have to verify the legal status of their workforces. The proposal would be modeled after an Arizona statute whose constitutionality was upheld last week by a federal judge.
“People complain about illegal immigrants, but the federal government is not enforcing its own statutes,” Senator Sweeney said. “With my bill, New Jersey would join Arizona as the only two states thus far to impose sanctions against businesses who knowingly hire illegal immigrants.”
U.S. District Court Judge Neil Wake rejected claims that the Arizona statute usurped the federal government’s right to regulate immigration, adding that federal law specifically grants states the right to regulate business licensing.
Under the Arizona law, both the Attorney General’s Office and county prosecutors are charged with receiving complaints about illegal hirings, but valid complaints are turned over to county prosecutors.
New Jersey’s illegal population was last set by the federal government at 430,000 in 2006, but has since grown to nearly 500,000, according to the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a group favoring restrictions on illegal immigration.
Senator Sweeney said he expects to have his bill drafted in time for introduction next week.