- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 3, 2008

FREDERICK, Md. — A Frederick County commissioner is seeking penalties for local businesses that hire illegal aliens.

Charles A. Jenkins, a Republican, says new laws in other states designed to curb hiring of illegals encouraged him to develop a similar proposal that he hopes to submit to the Board of County Commissioners next month.

Laws that took effect Tuesday in Tennessee and Arizona, and one set to take effect in July in Oklahoma, include provisions for suspending and possibly revoking the business licenses of employers caught hiring illegal aliens. Illegal workers would then be fired, but not directly prosecuted by state authorities.

The Arizona law already is having its intended effect by reportedly prompting illegal aliens to leave the state and business owners there to recheck employee paperwork, Mr. Jenkins told the Frederick News-Post.

“Quite frankly, I see that as a positive,” Mr. Jenkins said.

In October, Mr. Jenkins’ proposal to cut some county services to illegal aliens was defeated by the commissioners by a vote of 3-2.

Mr. Jenkins said he was working with the county attorney’s office on plans to audit local construction businesses that receive building permits from the county. Those that are found to employ illegal workers could be fined and the workers fired under the ordinance he plans to present.

Local construction companies had varied reactions to the plan.

Mark Adams, owner of Adams Construction and Welding, said companies that hire illegals to get cheap labor should be shut down.

But Mark Crocker, president and owner of Crocker Homes Inc., said laws already exist to prohibit the hiring of illegal workers.

“Trying to enact a local law to enforce a federal law seems like the wrong way to go,” he said.

Lisa Coblentz, vice president of the Manpower temporary employment agency in Frederick, said Frederick County has a labor shortage that would worsen, hurting employers, if workers are removed from the labor pool. She said immigrants comprise about 10 percent of local Manpower hires.

Mark Lancaster, owner and president of Lancaster Craftsmen Builders, said the labor shortage is a problem that immigration has eased.

Mr. Lancaster said some of his subcontractors hire immigrants from Mexico and Vietnam. “It would be extremely difficult for us to micromanage their businesses in a way that would guarantee they would not have illegals working for them,” Mr. Lancaster said.

He said he agrees with the intent of Mr. Jenkins’ proposal but that it would be hard to implement without federal oversight.

“Otherwise, it’s going to be a witch hunt,” he said.

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