One of my new favorite "undiscovered gems" on the Internet, is Connecticut Judicial Branch Law Libraries’ Newslog. It is a site maintained by the librarians with daily entries to help people stay informed about "recent legal developments, legal practice tools, and law library resources". It’s another example of how librarians are adapting to new technology and providing a helpful resource.
One of the entries that caught my eye recently was a research memo prepared by the Office of Legislative Research that discussed what the Connecticut laws are regarding employers who hire illegal immigrants. The issue arises out of a law that Arizona passed last year that provides for extreme penalties to employers who hire illegal immigrants.
So what does Connecticut say on the subject? Well, the memo points to Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-51k, which has been on the books for 35 years, as the applicable law:
Since 1972, Connecticut law has penalized employers who knowingly employ aliens not entitled to lawful residence. A first offense is punishable by a fine of $ 200 to $ 500. Any subsequent offense is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of $ 2,000, imprisonment for up to one year, or both.
But not so fast.
As the OLR memo goes on to state, that law is likely preempted by the 1986 Federal Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) which preempts “any State or local law imposing civil or criminal sanctions (other than through licensing and similar laws) upon those who employ, or recruit or refer for a fee for employment, unauthorized aliens” 8 U.S.C. 1324a(h)(2). Thus, even with a Connecticut law on the books, it probably has no real effect anymore because of the federal law "preempting" it. (Why have the state law then still on the books? That’s a good question for another day.)
The memo concludes by stating that the Arizona law is different because that state statute deals with a business license, which is exempted from preemption.
With no action on any immigration-related bills in Connecticut this session, Connecticut employers should continue to educate themselves on the requirements of IRCA in dealing with illegal aliens. The Department of Labor’s website is a good place to start and there are additional materials located here. But the enforcement of laws relating to the hiring of illegal aliens has also been picked up by the Department of Homeland Security and even Connecticut has its own Alien Labor Certification Unit. It is an area filled with risk and employers should continue to tread carefully.
Lastly, on a lighter note, what post on alien workers, would be complete without a link to the classic Genesis song "Illegal Alien". So, on this Friday, a link to the deliciously tacky video is below: