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McCaskill Asks Talent If He Will Crack Down On Employers

Location: Kansas City, MO

McCaskill Asks Talent If He Will Crack Down On Employers

June 29, 2006

McCaskill Asks If Talent Will Crack Down on Employers that Hire Illegals, Or Continue to Defend Big Corporate Agriculture

As Corporate Agriculture's #1 Senator to Fund, Jim Talent Allowed Prosecution of Employers for Illegal Hires to Drop by 99% since 1995

KANSAS CITY, MO - Standing in front of the Charles Evan Whittaker Federal Courthouse in Kansas City, U.S.Senate Candidate Claire McCaskill asked Jim Talent to once and for all state whether he supports tougher penalties on employers that hire illegal immigrants. After three weeks of McCaskill talking about her plan to toughen our borders and crack down on those who violate our laws, Talent has yet to say whether he would hold these employers accountable or whether he will continue to stand with his big agriculture friends.

"Since 1995, penalties on employers that hire illegal immigrants have dropped by 99%. Senators like Jim Talent have looked the other way while our laws have gone un-enforced because they are feeding his campaign coffers," McCaskill said. "Senator Talent must answer the question: Will he finally get to the root of the immigration problem by cracking down on employers that hire illegal workers or will he continue to help his friends in the big agriculture corporations exploit these workers for cheap labor?"

McCaskill illustrated how the Administration and Congress systematically dismantled all meaningful enforcement of employers of illegal immigrants under their watch. From the early 1990's, when Talent first came to Washington, to 2003, the audits of companies hiring illegal immigrants dropped by 77%. The number of companies sanctioned for hiring illegal immigrants also dropped by 99.6% - 909 employers were fined in 1995, 240 were fined in 1999, 124 in 2003 and only three employers were fined for hiring illegal immigrants in 2004.

McCaskill noted that in addition to an abysmal record on prosecution, the Bush Administration showed they had no intention of making a crack down on immigration a priority when they nominated a very inexperienced Julie Myers to head the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Much like that of Mike Brown, the former head of FEMA, Myers has no experience with immigration laws or enforcement, but has been charged with managing over 20,000 employees and a $4 billion budget to oversee the detaining and removal of illegal immigrants, investigating smuggling, illegal exports and money laundering as well as the fining of employers that hire illegal immigrants.

"National news publications warned us that this political hire would lead to another Mike Brown-FEMA disaster and it has," McCaskill said. "This is another example of how Washington's wink-wink, nod-nod system allows them to talk tough on illegal immigration while still letting an unqualified political crony and big corporate contributors run the country into the ground. It's clearly time for a Senator who is on the side of the American worker."

Offering real solutions to the immigration crisis in America, McCaskill outlined an aggressive proposal to increase border security and institute stricter regulations on employers that exploit illegal immigrants for cheap labor. McCaskill said it was outrageous for the Administration and Congress to have failed to fully fund Border Patrol agents until an election year. Due to their negligence, there are now 12 million undocumented workers in the United States. A security fence and increased surveillance are only the first steps to addressing this crisis.

McCaskill stated that current penalties are meaningless to giant corporations. She proposed that first time offenders of hiring illegal workers are fined $10,000 per illegal immigrant and receive up to 6 months in jail; second time offenders are fined $25,000 per illegal immigrant and receive up to 1 year in jail, and third time offenders are fined $50,000 per illegal immigrant and receive no less than one year in jail. McCaskill also proposed instituting a new electronic employment verification system, which Senator Jim Talent opposed, and designating more workplace inspectors to investigate violations. She also called for the creation of an Assistant Attorney General to head immigration litigation and enforcement in the Federal Courts.

Last week at a press conference in Springfield, McCaskill asserted that Senator Jim Talent supports amnesty for employers who give American jobs to illegal immigrants based on his issue position and record. Talent is listed as the number one Senator this cycle to fund by five big agricultural corporations, including Tyson Foods Inc., with ties to hiring illegal workers and, as a result, Talent has allowed illegal immigration enforcement to go by the wayside.

"If Senator Talent wants to start talking tough about immigration as an election year tactic, he's going to have to explain why he hasn't fought for our American jobs by enforcing our immigration laws," McCaskill said. "Five of the country's top agriculture coporations have two things in common: they have all been associated with hiring illegal immigrants and have all made Senator Talent their number one Senator to fund this year."

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