DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A bill that would require Iowa businesses to use a federal program to verify employees are allowed to work in the United States has advanced through a Senate subcommittee despite concerns from business groups and county prosecutors.
The bill voted out of a subcommittee Wednesday prohibits businesses from knowingly employing workers with no legal residency status or citizenship. It requires county attorneys to take action against employers, but a lobbyist for the prosecutors say they have no staff to pursue such cases.
Under the measure, employers found in violation would have to fire all those unauthorized to work or lose their business license. A second offense would bring a permanent business license suspension.
The bill requires businesses to use the E-Verify federal system to check worker documentation. Business groups say the system is unreliable.
This comes after Cristhian Rivera, the alleged killer of Mollie Tibbetts, was found to be in the country illegally. He had presented out-of-state identification and worked at Yarrabee Farms under a false name.
Investigators found the farm did not use E-Verify, though some speculated it wouldn’t have mattered since he used false identification.
Sen. Julian Garrett, a Republican, says more than 20 states have similar measures.