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Missouri House endorses E-Verify legislation

By Marshall Griffin, KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – A bill designed to prevent companies from hiring illegal immigrants has received first-round approval in the Missouri House, but one of the sponsors is concerned it may be too late in the session to pass it.

The bill would require employers to use the federal E-Verify database to check if their newly-hired employees are eligible to work in the United States.

The sponsor, State Representative Jerry Nolte (R, Gladstone), says even if the House passes the bill next week, he's not sure the Senate will get around to it.

"It depends so much on the other chamber...we obviously cannot control how quickly they will take up a given bill, and...we cannot control what they will do with it once they get it," Nolte said.

A spokesperson for Senate President Pro-Tem Michael Gibbons says he's committed to passing illegal immigration reforms, and that they'll work on as many bills as they can during the final week.

Opponents, meanwhile, question the reliability of the E-Verify program.

Joan Suarez is Chair of the Statewide Coalition of Missouri Immigrant and Refugee Advocates.

"It is about 20% of the time, overall, inaccurate in its findings, and very often has turned up U.S. citizens as not being able to verify their citizenship status," Suarez said.

The 2008 legislative session ends Friday, May 16th, at 6:PM.

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