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Louisiana's sanctions appear to deter hiring of illegal aliens. As state exacts employer fines, fewer illegals able to find work

Congress may be having trouble approving sanctions against employers who hire illegal aliens. But Louisiana is one state that managed to pass its own law against such hiring, and according to the state official who oversees its implementation the law is cutting down on the hiring of undocumented workers.

Louisiana has had financial penalties for hiring undocumented aliens for about four years. But according to Cecil Formby, executive officer for the Louisiana Department of Labor, the law did not get any teeth until a year ago, when his department was granted authority to assess the civil penalties.

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In one year, the state has collected $46,500 in fines, and companies across the state have begun taking the initiative in working with Mr. Formby's department and the US Immigration and Naturalization Service to keep illegal aliens out of their shops -- and thus avoid any fines.

The Louisiana law states that an employer must pay up to $250 for each illegal alien he is found to employ. That amount climbs to $1,000 on the third and subsequent offenses.

The employer can either pay the civil fine, as he would a parking ticket, or he may request a hearing. In only a few cases have the department's charges been dropped.

Noting that Louisiana has the highest unemployment rate in the country, Formby says, ``I'd say the program's having a real good effect.''

He cites the following statistics as ``the clearest indication'' of the power of penalties: In the year prior to September 1985, 58 percent of the undocumented aliens apprehended in Louisiana were employed in the state. Yet over the last 12 months -- during which time total apprehensions increased -- only 7 percent were employed.

``I think it's pretty clear,'' says Formby, ``that, here in Louisiana anyway, the employers are backing off from hiring them.''

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