Tennessee governor signs bill to thwart employment of illegal immigrants

| 7/16/2007

A new law in Tennessee allows the state to suspend business licenses for companies found to have “knowingly” employed illegal immigrants. It takes effect Jan. 1, 2008.

Gov. Phil Bredesen signed the bill into law after it swept through the state’s House and Senate this spring. The new law, previously HB729, permits the commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development to suspend business licenses for companies found to have hired illegal immigrants.

Supporters said the new law will make the state less attractive for illegal immigrants. Opponents said it is the federal government’s responsibility to enforce immigration laws.

Farmers are exempt from the new rule. They are not required to have business licenses.

A suspension would be lifted once a company proves it no longer has any illegal immigrants as employees. Subsequent offenses occurring within three years would mandate license suspensions for one year.

Employers who check identification and are misled by an illegal immigrant will not be considered to be in violation and would not be prosecuted.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Tennessee in 2007, click here.