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Arkansas unions riled up over illegal immigrants

By: 24 January 2011 One Comment

A bill imposing penalties against contractors who knowingly hire illegal immigrants is due to go before a state House committee on Wednesday and some Arkansas unions have been asked to come to the state Capitol and show their support for it.

The bill at issue is HB 1013, which is sponsored by State Rep. Jim Nickels (D-Sherwood). The bill, if passed, will allow the state Contractors Licensing Board to impose penalties on contractors who — directly or through a subcontractor — knowingly hire people who are not authorized to work in the United States.

If you’d like to have a look at the two-page bill for yourself, just click here.

The bill should come as little surprise to people who have been paying attention to the state and national political climate. Illegal immigration has been a hot button issue over the past few years and the unemployment rate in Arkansas in November was 7.9 percent. It makes sense, then, for the Legislature to pick up an issue that could, in theory, make more jobs available to Arkansas workers who are here legally.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that some union leaders in Arkansas are supporting the bill. Jess Akers with Arkansas AFL-CIO sent an email to members of both that union and others stating the bill will go before the  House Committee on State and Governmental Affairs at 10 a.m. on Wednesday. Akers, in the email, said she believes the bill will appeal to Arkansans regardless of political persuasion.

“We feel that this is a bill that both Republicans and Democrats can support and should pass in order to protect Arkansas jobs and workers,” she said. “This bill would hold contractors accountable for ensuring that all of their employees have legal authorization to work in the United States. This would, in effect, protect these types of jobs for tax-paying Arkansas workers, level the playing field for honest employers who hire authorized workers, and ensure that the state and federal governments are receiving the revenue required by law through appropriately and accurately filed payroll taxes.”

Akers also called on union members to visit the Capitol on Wednesday and show their support for the bill,” she said. “We are looking for supporters of this bill to join us at the State Capitol on Wednesday to hold our elected officials accountable for Arkansas jobs. We also need folks to contact their legislators in support of this bill.”

About: Ethan C. Nobles:
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email =

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