Ky. should scrap House and Senate approaches to immigration and take new path, Catholic leader says

03/09/2011 06:18 PM

Both the state Senate and state House’s plans aimed at addressing immigration this session were fundamentally flawed, said Rev. Patrick Delahanty, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Kentucky.

Father Delahanty appeared on Pure Politics — on Ash Wednesday, in fact — to outline concerns about those immigration bills.

While both proposals failed to win final approval this session, lawmakers in both chambers have vowed to continue pushing for their passage in future sessions.

The Senate Republicans’ bill — Senate Bill 6 — would have given broader powers to Kentucky law enforcement agents to arrest anyone they found to be in the country illegally.

The Catholic bishops also have taken issue with the House Democrats’ plan — House Bill 3 — that would require contractors with the state to use the federal E-Verify system to check to see if their employees were here legally.

Delahanty said the accuracy of the E-Verify system has been a problem and until that is worked out, using it shouldn’t be mandated. Recent testimony in Washington about a Government Accountability Office report on the E-Verify system revealed 76,000 legal citizens were erroneously denied employment after their names were flagged by the system.

First, Delahanty talked about the implications of a legislative stalemate over the Medicaid budget fix. And he outlined concerns about across the board cuts proposed by the Senate Republicans to balance the Medicaid budget because that would mean reducing money for public education and transportation of students to private and Catholic schools.

ONLINE EXTRA:

So what do groups, such as the Catholic Conference of Kentucky, believe states like Kentucky should do to address the issue of illegal immigration?

Delahanty said the Catholic Conference of Kentucky will push for a bill that would encourage employers to hire legal immigrants as employees — not as contractors. He explains it in this online extra:

- Ryan Alessi

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