Lawmaker to Pursue Employer Penalties

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - A Nevada lawmaker who pushed for a bill
to penalize Nevada employers for knowingly hiring illegal immigrants said she'll try again next year now that the attorney general's office said key provisions of the 2007 measure are unenforceable.

Assemblywoman Ellen Koivisto, D-Las Vegas, one of several lawmakers who sought the law to impose sanctions against employers,
said the issue isn't going away and the Legislature needs to tackle
it again in 2009.

With Arizona enforcing its own tough law to penalize employers who knowingly employ illegal residents, Nevada is likely to see its problems exacerbated as immigrants seek work elsewhere, she said.

The 2007 law authorized the state Tax Commission to impose an administrative fine against a Nevada employer, but only after a finding by the U.S. attorney general that the employer had engaged in the unlawful hiring of an illegal immigrant.

The Tax Commission was told by the attorney general's office earlier this month not to proceed with regulations implementing the legislation because illegal immigration is a federal issue and federal law supersedes state law.

The opinion, written by Senior Deputy Attorney General Karen Dickerson for Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, said the fines would be contrary to the federal Immigration Reform and Control Act, or IRCA.

The bill also contains provisions aimed at stopping human trafficking of illegal immigrants, which were not affected by the opinion.

Fernando Romero, president of Hispanics in Politics, said he testified in 2007 that the measure would be found unenforceable for the reasons cited in the March 3 legal opinion by the attorney general. Romero and the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada opposed the measure.

"I'm glad the AG ruled that way," he said. "I'm really not surprised at all. It is a function of the federal government and it should be left up to the feds."

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)