Democrats in the legislature propose big fines and the option of jail time for businesses and executives who knowingly hire illegal immigrants. House Democrat Leader Pat Murphy of Dubuque says corporations that import cheap labor, illegally, drive down all wages. “We think it’s time that we get tough on big corporations that bring illegal immigrants to this state,” Murphy says. Senate Co-Leader Mike Gronstal, a Democrat from Council Bluffs, says Democrats want to create a new “Employer Accountability Bureau” in the Attorney General’s office to investigate companies suspected of hiring undocumented workers.

Gronstal says the federal government is doing “little or nothing” to deal with the problem, so Democrats in the legislature want to target the “big corporations” that are “defining” immigration policy by shipping in illegals who work for lower wages than American citizens. “Nobody can criticize a family for seeking a better life for their children,” Gronstal says. “This is a criticism of corporations that use immigration as a way to drive down wages in our state.”

Gronstal refused to say the legislation targets specific businesses or even specific industries in the state. “I’m not about picking on individual companies,” Gronstal says. “The vast majority of players in this state are good businesspeople (who) do a good job.” The package Democrats propose also would outlaw “human trafficking” in Iowa. Senate Co-President Jack Kibbie, a Democrat from Emmetsburg, says it involves not just adults who’re seeking jobs but kids who’re being sexually exploited.
Kibbie says the state must “get ahold of” the situation and stop it.