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Missouri lawmakers send illegal immigration bill to Gov. Blunt

By Marshall Griffin, KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – Within hours of the end of the 2008 session, the Missouri House and Senate have passed a major illegal immigration bill.

The wide-ranging bill includes items that would bar cities from adopting sanctuary policies, bar illegal immigrants from receiving public benefits, require driver's license tests be given in English, and a scaled-back amendment that would fine employers who misclassify workers as "contractors."

State Representative Bob Onder (R, Lake St. Louis) sponsored the bill in the House.

He acknowledges that Missouri's illegal immigrant population is smaller than other states.

"That population has been estimated, I believe, by the Pew Hispanic Center at about 65,000, although of course since they're here illegally we really don't know the exact number...there is still a problem and we need to get to the bottom of it," Onder said.

State Senator Joan Bray (D, St. Louis) says the bill sends a message that Missouri is not a welcoming place for immigrants.

"All immigrants will be suspected of being illegal, anyone who speaks a foreign language and doesn't know English very well will be suspected of being illegal, and local law enforcement will be expected to try to take care of immigration issues," Bray said.

The bill now goes to Governor Matt Blunt for his signature.

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