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By Bob Katzen

Beacon Hill Roll Call

STATEHOUSE — The state Senate on Thursday afternoon, May 27, approved 28-10, a budget amendment that would crack down on state benefits for illegal immigrants and punish the employers who hire them.

According to a summary of the amendment obtained by Beacon Hill Roll Call, two of the key provisions would require all businesses that receive state contracts to verify that their employees are legally here in Massachusetts and ban businesses from bidding on state contracts if they are found to violate federal law that prohibits the hiring of illegal immigrants. The measure also bars illegal immigrant students from receiving the benefit that would allow them to pay the same discounted in-state tuition rates and fees at Massachusetts colleges and universities that legal students pay.

Other provisions require MassHealth to verify the immigration status of applicants, increase the penalty for driving without a license, prohibit illegal immigrants from being placed in a public housing unit prior to any applicant who is in the United States legally, establish a toll-free hotline for people to report the employment of illegal immigrants, create new penalties for falsifying state driver’s licenses and IDs and require the verification of the status of any criminal defendants appearing in court.

The proposal gained bipartisan support on the Senate floor. All five Republicans and 23 of the chamber’s 35 Democrats voted for the controversial measure. All 10 votes against it were from Democrats.

The House budget does not include any of these provisions. A House-Senate conference committee will ultimately draft a version of the budget that might include all, some or none of these immigration provisions. That version of the budget would go to the House and Senate for an up or down vote.

Sen. James Eldridge, No; Sen. Jennifer Flanagan, Yes; Sen. Steven Panagiotakos, Yes

Copyright Bob Katzen.

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