Illegal immigration is not a problem that can or should be ignored at the state level.
While the nation waits for Congress to act on the status of the 12 million or more people said to be in this country without proper papers, state Sen. Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester, wants the Massachusetts Legislature to do what it can to make sure those doing business with the state are obeying existing laws. He'd require these contractors to verify the Social Security numbers of those they employ — and, on the other hand, would increase the penalties for those involved in the production of fake IDs.
In explaining his bill, Tarr noted last week that tax dollars spent on state employment contracts should not be advancing the violation of federal immigration laws. It's frankly hard to argue with that.
Tarr's bill is presently before the legislative Judiciary Committee which has yet to bring it to the floor. But his proposal certainly makes sense and deserves serious consideration.
Revelations that former Gov. Mitt Romney did business with a landscaper who employed illegal immigrants proved embarrassing to his presidential campaign. Certainly the state doesn't want to find itself in a similar position.
Even the Patrick administration, which has been less than enthusiastic about enforcing certain aspects of federal immigration laws, has issued an executive order directing state agencies to verify the citizenship status of new hires. Thus, it seems eminently logical to extend that standard to private companies and nonprofit agencies that do business with the state.
Let's hope it happens soon.