State House introduces bill to prevent undocumented migrants from working

A new bill introduced at the State House called for new protections to block undocumented migrants from receiving jobs unless they have legal documents.
Published: Nov. 14, 2023 at 5:31 PM EST
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BOSTON, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - A new bill introduced at the State House called for new protections to block undocumented migrants from receiving jobs unless they have legal documents that prove they’re legally allowed to work in the state.

In the House, it’s bill 1866 and the Senate, it’s 1169…

Regardless of what they’re called they stand for some of the same things. Those bills are pushing for companies across the commonwealth to use an e-verify program, that ensures employees have the proper documents.

That system is used jointly by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration.

The legislation reads in part…

“After hiring an employee, an employer shall verify the employment eligibility of the employee through the e-verify program…no employer shall intentionally or knowingly employ an unauthorized alien.”

Now, that bill authorizes the Attorney General to create a complaint form for someone to allege a company is in violation of the act.

It also states that the Attorney General or a District Attorney cannot investigate claims based solely on race, color, national origin.

If a company is in violation of that act, the state would demand that company to terminate all unauthorized workers and they’ll have to comply with a 3-year probationary period where they would file quarterly reports with their District Attorney spotlighting that they are adhering this policy, they could also face business license suspensions.

If they’re found in violation a second time, they could lose their licenses permanently.

On Tuesday, we’re hearing from both advocates and those who oppose the bill.

We begin with supporters who were able to express their opinion during Tuesday’s public hearing in front of the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development. They said passing this bill would ensure authorized workers will remain the focus of the job-hiring process.

“The statewide e-verify system have three primary benefits,” explained Henry Barberaux of Newton. “One by making it much more difficult to be hired illegally. It would discourage unauthorized coming to Massachusetts. Two, It would level the playing field among employers and stop giving the competitive advantage to exploitive and dishonest employers who hire illegal workers.”

He also adds it would improve the wages of poorer, lower-skilled workers.

Western Mass News spoke with Tara Parrish she’s the Executive Director of the Pioneer Valley Project, she told us bills like this are harmful.

“This particular piece of legislation, first of all, it’s not likely to advance,” noted Parrish. “I think it basically revisits some talking points that are divisive, talking points that are not honest assessments of what is happening, how changes in workforce participation are fueled by many, many different factors, but seek to assign blame migrants for taking away jobs from American citizens.

it’s unclear what happens next with this bill.

Parrish’s organization is actively working to help migrants here in the U.S. apply for identification with the state.

by the way, the bill also requires employers to register and participate in the e-verify process in order to receive an economic development incentive from a government entity.