A bill being considered in the Missouri House would create new requirements for immigrant workers.

The proposal from Rep. Jim Murphy, R-St. Louis County requires private employers to verify the eligibility of every worker hired after the business enrolls in the federal work authorization program. His bill adds private employers to the list as public employers are already required to enroll.

He tells a house committee that this sets up a registry within the state where workers register.

“Unscrupulous subcontractors and contractors hire these people and pay them under scale and pay them under the table,” Murphy said. “They’re not doing this state or anybody else a service. First of all, they don’t pay any taxes, but that’s probably the smallest part. But if we’re going to protect our workers with workers compensation and so forth, they have to be paid properly, and they have to be hired properly.”

Violations would include a 120-day license suspension for the business and subsequent violations would be a class D felony.

Bridget Walsh Moore, D-St. Louis questions Murphy on why workers would have to register.

“I mean if no one’s hiring me, then I should be, that should be enough, right? I mean it should just be the businesses because you’re putting the onus of registering on people by, who you said, have limited knowledge of the law who have limited language capabilities who might not know that this is a thing,” said Moore.

But Murphy responded, “Well if you read this, it’s really, the onus is on the employer to make sure they register.”

Marlon Anderson, D-St. Louis, opposes Murphy’s legislation, saying it would negatively impact commerce in the state.

“I see some guy like ‘hey I can do mud’ and all that. Like, ‘okay, I’ll give you $200 for the day,'” said Anderson. “How would that affect my business, assuming he’s an immigrant, and undocumented?

“You would be held liable for that,” responded Murphy. “You could lose your license if you wanted to.”

“For one day hiring a person just to mud,” questioned Anderson.

“You’re breaking the law,” interrupted Murphy.

A Missouri House Committee on Innovation and Technology could vote on the bill soon.

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