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If elected auditor, Icet pledges to target illegal immigrants

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 10, 2010 - In the latest salvo of Missouri's hottest Republican primary, state auditor candidate Allen Icet is accusing GOP rival Thomas Schweich of going soft on illegal immigrants.

Icet, currently a state representative from Wildwood, is promising that -- if he is elected Missouri's next state auditor -- he'll focus on making sure that no Missouri tax dollars are spent on illegal immigrants.

To that end, says Icet, "As auditor, my office will undertake a comprehensive examination of state contracts to ensure that our tax dollars are not being sent to contractors that employ an illegal work-force, and I will conduct a top-down review of our Medicaid system to make sure that illegal immigrants are not receiving state welfare benefits."

The latter could be difficult since hospitals are required to treat patients with life-threatening illnesses or injuries, regardless of their ability to pay. Medicaid covers the costs for low-income people. So hospitals may seek to get some state or federal reimbursement for illegal immigrants who come in with life-threatening problems.

Icet said he was making his pledge in the wake of "a recent investigation by Illinois Auditor General William Holden that uncovered over $50 million in Illinois state welfare payments to illegal aliens." (Illinois is ranked fifth in the estimated number of illegal immigrants per capita per state; Missouri is ranked 38th.)

Icet noted that the Missouri Legislature acted in 2008 to impose "one of the nation's toughest anti-illegal immigration laws, HB 1549. We made it clear that state contractors who hired illegal aliens would have their contracts terminated and their business licenses suspended."

He asserted that since then state Auditor Susan Montee, a Democrat, "has shown no interest in utilizing her authority to prevent state tax dollars from going to illegals or the companies that hire them."

Icet also accused Schweich of being weak on border security and cited an opinion piece written by Schweich for the Washington Post in December 2008.

"Schweich argued against a plan to deploy 20,000 U.S. troops to help secure borders," said Icet spokesman Steve Walsh. "In addition to detailing a distrust of the military that borders on paranoia, declaring 'the generals are not only dominating our government activities abroad, at our borders and in Washington, but they also seem to intend to spread out across the heartland of America.'"

Schweich's campaign asserted that Icet was trying to deflect attention from other issues. "For the record, Tom Schweich has been an adamant supporter of the border fence and vastly increased law enforcement activity at the border,” said Joseph Passanise, Schweich's campaign treasurer.

"Schweich served as a senior US law enforcement official fighting crime and corruption in Mexico -- and has the endorsement of former US Attorney General John Ashcroft. On one occasion, Schweich's police-escorted car had to be diverted in Mexico City due to a security threat. Schweich 'does' while Icet 'talks.' "

Schweich's campaign continued:

"Moreover, Icet’s new stance on illegal immigration is inconsistent with his record in Jefferson City:
1) Icet co-sponsored legislation to exempt people 65 years and older from having to prove that they are US citizens, making a loophole in Missouri’s anti-illegal alien laws (HB 1704, 2006)
2) Icet stated in his answers to his 2002 MO Catholic Conference survey that he supports allowing drivers licenses and public education for non-citizens (www.mocatholic.org)
3) Icet voted to allow illegal immigrants to receive welfare benefits, provided they sign under oath that they are here legally if they don’t have proof of legal residency (CCR &CCS SS HCS HB 1549 et al., Section 2008.009; 5/16/2008)"

The Icet camp replied Thursday morning that Schweich was "lying" about the intent of HB 1549, which outlaws "sanctuary cities'' for illegal immigrants. That bill passed the House overwhelmingly in 2008.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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