Senate supports penalties for illegal hiring

Information on minimum wage bill

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Companies found hiring illegal workers would be blocked from getting government contracts, according to a provision in a minimum wage bill approved by the Senate Jan. 25.

An amendment with that provision in the Senate’s version of the Fair Minimum Wage Act (H.R. 2) passed by 94-0.

Under the amendment, contractors with illegal hiring practices would be banned from getting a new government contract for up to 10 years, depending on whether they currently had a contract with the government.

If contractors without federal contracts violated hiring laws, they would be barred from getting any government contracts for up to seven years. There would be a 10-year ban for contractors with government contracts, according to the amendment's language.

“Let’s let the workers’ salaries go up,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who proposed the legislation. “One way to do that is eliminate this competition from large numbers of illegal workers.”

American workers’ salaries have lagged because of a large influx of illegal immigrant labor, Sessions said in a Senate floor speech. “That is indisputable, and it has not been discussed much. People apparently don’t want to talk about it. We are going to talk about it,” he said.

The minimum wage bill, passed by the House Jan. 10, would increase the federal minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 an hour. As of Jan. 26, the Senate had not voted on the overall measure.

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