Pols want it both ways on immigration, jobs
The Virginian-Pilot © September 13, 2007
POLITICIANS OF BOTH parties brag that Virginia is the nation's "best state for business," a title bestowed by Forbes magazine. Some of those pols seem intent on winning a new moniker for Virginia: the toughest state in the country on illegal immigrants. Candidates for the General Assembly are clawing over each other in a competition to propose the harshest penalties for undocumented workers and the businesses that - knowingly or inadvertently - give them jobs. Can Virginia be business-friendly and strict on illegal immigration? ...
State and local officials are understandably frustrated by the lack of leadership coming from Washington, D.C. But the response by some overzealous legislators has been troubling. Earlier this year, the General Assembly considered two bills that would have allowed local governments to strip the business license of any company that employed a single illegal immigrant, whether or not the violation was willful. Both bills were later killed in the state Senate.
But consider this: Would Peninsula bureaucrats deny Northrop Grumman Newport News a business license if a worker at the company's Mississippi subsidiary didn't have his papers in order? Or, should Smithfield Foods lose its license in Virginia because of the 29 illegal workers discovered at its North Carolina processing plant last month? Most of them had stolen the identities of American citizens. When Republican leaders rolled out their immigration proposals two weeks ago, they were more careful to clarify that businesses would be punished only for willful violations of immigration laws that resulted in criminal convictions. Even so, their pugnacious rhetoric has continued, putting the state's business leaders on edge.
Republicans are trying to fire up their base in a year when their party is under attack at both the state and national levels. ..