Republicans Moffett and Holsclaw disagree with rival Williams over approach to immigration

01/31/2011 07:01 PM

PADUCAH — While Republican Senate President David Williams has pushed for an Arizona-style immigration law, his rivals in the GOP primary for governor said Friday they had concerns about its costs and effects.

Williams, Louisville businessman Phil Moffett and Jefferson County Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw each answered a question during a Republican forum in Paducah Friday about their preferred approach to dealing with illegal immigrants.

Moffett said he preferred an approach pushed by a House Democratic leader to allow Kentucky businesses access to a national database to check whether their workers are in the country legally. And Holsclaw said she was concerned about the cost of the Senate’s immigration proposal.

The Republican-controlled Senate passed legislation during the first week of January that would allow Kentucky law enforcement agents to check individuals’ citizenship and arrest anyone in the country illegally. It has drawn criticism from the Latino community and some Democrats.

“The Arizona-style law puts an awful lot of pressure on our police, on our jails and on our court system,” Moffett said, adding that he preferred a proposal to use the E-Verify system called for in a Democratic House bill. “I think the E-Verify system should not only be made available to employers, it should be made available to landlords.”

A Legislative Research Commission review of the financial effects of the legislation estimated that it would cost an extra $40 million in court and prison expenses.

But Williams said Kentucky should explicitly give law enforcement the power to make such arrests because other states, such as Arizona, have moved in that direction:

But Moffett said he preferred an approach pushed by members of the state House that would allow Kentucky businesses access to the E-Verify system, an Internet-based database that allows them to determine if workers are in the country illegally.

Any companies doing business with the state would be required to use that system, according to the legislation. The House bill is sponsored by state Rep. Bob Damron of Nicholasville and backed by at least one Republican, Rep. Alecia Webb-Edgington of Fort Wright.

Moffett’s running mate, Republican state Rep. Mike Harmon of Boyle County, said he too preferred the E-Verify system approach as a first step and expressed frustration that it passed the House in previous sessions but stalled in the Senate.

Harmon said he had some concerns about the Senate’s version and specifically whether parts of it overreached:

And Holsclaw said she agreed with the intent of the Senate’s bill but questioned how it would be paid for:

- Reporting by Ryan Alessi, video produced by Kenny Colston

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