Blunt directive aimed at illegal immigrants

The mandate calls for surprise visits to state-funded building sites to curb illegal workers.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007 | 8:24 p.m. CDT; updated 5:49 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

O’FALLON — Gov. Matt Blunt issued a directive Tuesday that will tighten oversight of state-financed construction projects to ensure that contractors don’t employ illegal immigrants.

The directive came one day after the Republican asked state law enforcement agencies to check the immigration status of people they arrest.

Blunt said he was spurred to issue the directive after construction projects in this suburban St. Louis town and elsewhere were alleged to employ illegal immigrants.

“This will help ensure that Missouri taxpayers are not in some way subsidizing illegal immigration,” he said at a Tuesday news conference.

The directive will only impact contractors who receive state tax credits or other financial incentives.

Those contractors must already provide paperwork proving their workers are employed legally. But now, the Missouri Department of Economic Development will randomly audit that paperwork and perform surprise visits to work sites to ensure all employees have proper documentation.

O’Fallon Mayor Donna Morrow said she is thankful the state is helping the city deal with a problem she has long found frustrating.

On Monday, Blunt ordered immigration status checks for people arrested by state troopers, the Missouri Water Patrol and Capitol Police. The governor pointed to the Aug. 4 killings of three college students in Newark, N.J. Jose Carranza, 28, an illegal immigrant from Peru, is one of six people charged in their deaths.

Carranza was out on bail on child rape and aggravated assault charges when the killings occurred. Immigration officials were never alerted about his first arrest.

Any arrestee found to be in the country illegally could be taken to one of 11 federal detention centers in Missouri. Federal immigration agents would then determine what happens to the detainees, Missouri State Highway Patrol officials said.

The Highway Patrol said it is also possible that someone stopped by a trooper could be detained by immigration authorities even if that person would not otherwise have been arrested.

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