Missouri joins states cracking down on illegal immigration

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A two-year effort to curb illegal immigration in Missouri came to fruition Monday as Gov. Matt Blunt signed legislation designed to catch illegal workers and punish their employers.

The law sets a wide range of new requirements, including mandatory checks on the legal status of all public employees, welfare applicants and jailed criminal suspects. It prohibits issuing driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, enacts new penalties for transporting illegal immigrants through Missouri and empowers the Highway Patrol to enforce federal immigration law.

Critics said the law faces probable legal challenges. Civil liberties groups are bothered by a provision that appears to allow judges to deny bail for many defendants who cannot prove they are in Missouri legally. Others question a provision that allows Missouri to not recognize licenses from some other states. Business groups may challenge a requirement that all state contractors and businesses receiving state loans or tax credits of more than $5,000 use a federal electronic system to verify new employees' legal status.

Read the full story at