Bill on Illegal Immigrants Advances to Full House

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – A legislative plan to ban illegal immigrants from receiving workers’ compensation insurance benefits cleared its first committee hurdle and now goes to the full state House.

Backers of the proposal say it is needed to send a message to those wrongly employing illegal immigrants. Opponents argue the workers will still get injured, and hospitals will have to pick up the tab for treating them in emergencies.

The politically charged arguments surround a perceived problem that could be very small — or even nonexistent.

Montana State Fund says that in 2010, it could only find eight claims out of more than 8,000 that had a suspicious Social Security number that may indicate an illegal immigrant.

Another bill up for initial debate Friday bans illegal immigrants from getting drivers’ licenses.

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