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The Immigration Debate Heats Up a Notch

On the same day that the Cardinal of Los Angeles called for respecting the human rights of immigrants, Western Governors united in support of establishing a national guest worker program, variations on which are promoted both by President Bush and by Senators Kennedy and McCain. The plan the Governors are supporting is described by outside observers as balanced and less extreme than many. The voice of the Governors, especially Western Governors, has become increasingly important as states, frustrated with perceived federal inaction, having increasingly turned to homegrown solutions. Colorado Republicans, for example, switched votes on a bill that would prohibit state contracting with companies that knowingly exploit illegal immigrant labor. That Colorado measure, which still emerged from committee in a bipartisan vote, had already been watered down. Where it had previously prohibited contracting with these companies for ten years, the ban was shortened to two. But a better solution is HB 1342 introduced by Mike Cerbo (D-Denver), which would target employers who exploit immigrants in the underground economy by simply increasing enforcement of existing labor laws and drive dishonest companies out of business.