The Ozarks Minutemen, a Springfield-based group of volunteers that seeks to educate the public on the impact of illegal immigration on the community, started an initiative petition this week that would prohibit businesses licensed by the city from hiring non-citizens.
Jerry Wilson, Ozarks Minutemen spokesman and a retired U.S. Navy pilot, said the group is pushing to collect 1,500 signatures to see the proposed ordinance on either the June or August ballot.
The ordinance would employ the mandatory use of E-Verify
, a free U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Internet-based program that allows businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the country, be they U.S. citizens or foreign naturalized citizens.
"We believe that the United States government has failed in its responsibility to the American people with respect to border control and interior enforcement and that it is our duty as citizens, acting within the law, to prevent further damage," Jerry Long, Ozarks Minutemen director, said in a news release. "The best way we can do that is to place this ordinance in front of the voters of Springfield and let them decide."
Springfield City Clerk Brenda Cirtin said if the group manages to get the petition in to the clerk's office before the April general election, it would need 1,181 signatures.
If the petition comes in after the election, that number could change, as petition numbers are based on the latest general municipal election. Initiative petitions must attain signatures equal to 10 percent of the number of votes in the most recent general election, she said.
In the news release, officials stated their belief that some Springfield businesses are employing illegal workers. Wilson, however, wouldn't name any specific businesses.
Bringing the E-Verify program to Springfield would help in this matter, the release said.
"Businesses are already required to complete an I-9 form (Employment Eligibility Verification) for each new employee, and some businesses in Springfield already use E-Verify," Long said in the release.
In the release, the group stressed that the proposed ordinance would only target illegal workers and is not intended to condemn businesses for hiring foreign workers.
"We are not opposed to legal, controlled immigration,” Wilson said in the release. “The United States has benefited from the contributions of legal immigrants from the very beginning.
"Their solid work ethic and drive to succeed has made America better."[[In-content Ad]]