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MO Senate committee debates immigration measures


By Marshall Griffin, KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – A Senate committee held a hearing Wednesday on a group of bills aimed at discouraging illegal immigrants from coming to Missouri.

The bills would bar illegal immigrants from holding jobs or attending college in Missouri, would give state troopers the authority to enforce federal immigration laws, and allow cities and towns to pass similar laws.

David Keller is a small business owner from Rolla who supports the bills. "I think that most of the illegal, illegal aliens that we see are fundamental lawbreakers, they're simply here for all kinds of goodies, free stuff, and this sort of thing," Keller said. "We all have seen this sort of thing, they're taking our jobs."

Linda Cowan, who works with a non-profit group in Kansas City, opposes the bills. She says some illegal immigrants are giving tips to police and helping to reduce crime.

Mike Coy, with the Missouri Catholic Conference, was also among those to speak against the bill. "We believe the enforcement is appropriate, but we'd like to see earned legalization first, and we'd like to see a much more robust guest worker program," Coy said.

"If you can get those in place then I think you can deal more with the underground economy."

Senators did not vote on the bills during Wednesday's hearing.

Another provision that was being debated would punish landlords renting to illegal immigrants, but it was later removed. A judge this week ruled that similar restrictions enacted in Valley Park were unconstitutional.


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