Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Pawlenty's immigration initiative

Before I outline Gov. Pawlenty's plan to combat illegal immigration, I'm first going to outline the reasons why it is needed.

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Pawlenty cited several examples he believes are representative of the concerns he has heard:

· In October, 14 individuals, most of whom were illegal immigrants, were arrested with more than $700,000 in methamphetamine in the central Minnesota city of Melrose

· In another Minnesota city, an illegal immigrant arrested for a sex crime, was arraigned, deported and returned to the city within 48 hours

· Police have reported arresting an individual who had six different identification documents

· Police have discovered fake drivers’ licenses with the same name and seven different photographs

· During a three-day period in September 2004 and a three-day period in September 2005, the Minnesota State Patrol conducted a saturation patrol along I-35 in Rice and Steele Counties. Forty-four illegal immigrants were stopped.

· Accounts of numerous people using one Social Security Number

· Individuals presenting themselves at health care facilities wanting to use their “Medicaid name” rather than their “employment name,” to secure better benefits

(Source: Office of Governor Tim Pawlenty Press Relsease, Jan. 3, 2006)
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Before I go into the plan, I have one question for the Star Tribune: Are these the benefits you're talking about?

Now onto the proposal.

In an effort to make sure immigration laws are actually enforced, Gov. Pawlenty is creating the Minnesota Illegal immigration Enforcement Team (MIIET). Members of this team will assist law enforcement personel with ilegal immigration issues.

Aside from the creation of the MIIET, Gov. Pawlenty is also proposing the following:

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· New and increased criminal penalties for creation, possession or sale of false identification documents

· Increased criminal penalties for human trafficking involving minors

· Making the existing status check on temporary visitors’ drivers’ licenses part of state statute

· Prohibiting cities from having “sanctuary laws” which prevent local law enforcement from inquiring about immigration status or enforcing immigration laws

· Recording the country of citizenship and immigration status during arrests to better track illegal immigrants who commit crimes

· Enhanced penalties for employers who improperly hire or employ illegal immigrants


(Source: Office of Governor Tim Pawlenty Press Relsease, Jan. 3, 2006)
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In a nushell, Gov. Pawlenty's proposal is to make sure existing laws are enforced.

Below is a list of the rest of the proposal.

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Give Law Enforcement the Tools to Crack Down on False Documents

Illegal immigrants often rely on false identification documents to obtain employment, health benefits and other social services, creating a criminal underground in some communities. Currently, it is not a crime in Minnesota simply to possess false identification documents unless an intent to commit a crime is also evident. Governor Pawlenty proposes to make it a crime to possess, create, manufacture or obtain an identity that is not one’s own. Possession of a false document would be a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail. Creating or obtaining false documents would be a 5 year felony. Penalties would increase for multiple identities.

Increase the Penalties for Human Trafficking

The 2005 legislature recognized the need to create human trafficking legislation in Minnesota for the first time. The Governor is proposing to increase the penalty from a 15 year maximum to a 20 year maximum for engaging in labor trafficking when the victim is under the age of 18 and increase the penalty for misusing documents for furtherance of labor or sex trafficking when the victim is underage from a 5 year to a 10 year felony.

Pawlenty also announced the formation of the Governor’s Human Trafficking Task Force to identify effective methods in tracking and prosecuting those who engage in human trafficking. The task force will be staffed by the Department of Public Safety.

Permanently Codify Driver’s License Immigration Status Check

Minnesota’s drivers’ license is the gateway document for many of society’s rights and privileges. In 2002, the Department of Public Safety put into administrative rule a mandatory drivers’ license status check for visiting non-citizens. This rule prevents non-citizens from using the Minnesota driver’s license to stay in the country longer than federal law allows. Governor Pawlenty is proposing this rule be made permanent in state law.

Prohibit Sanctuary Ordinances

In cities with sanctuary ordinances, such as Minneapolis and St. Paul, police officers are prohibited from questioning, arresting or detaining any person for violations of federal civil immigration laws except when immigration status is an element of the crime. These ordinances violate federal law and provide protection for criminal behavior in our two largest cities which compromises public safety statewide.

Governor Pawlenty proposes to override existing sanctuary ordinances and prohibit local units of government from restricting the ability of public safety officials to inquire about immigration status and enforce immigration laws.

“State and federal laws must be respected and enforced statewide and sanctuary laws prevent this from happening,” Governor Pawlenty said.

Track Illegal Immigrants that Commit Crimes

Currently, individuals are booked when they are arrested on serious misdemeanor crimes, as well as gross misdemeanor and felony crimes. When the booking occurs, the attending officer is required to complete a series of data fields for the BCA criminal history data base. The data field regarding country of citizenship is an optional field. The Governor proposes requiring law enforcement to record the country of citizenship and immigration status during arrests, allowing the state to better track illegal immigrants who commit crimes.

Employer Requirements and Penalties

The Governor proposes legislation to subject employers who knowingly hire, employ or recruit illegal immigrants for employment to a fine of up to $5,000. Additionally, state contracts would be required to contain a clause prohibiting the use of illegal immigrants to perform services.

(Source: Office of Governor Tim Pawlenty Press Release, Jan. 3, 2006)
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