Ozarks Minutemen Lose Battle on Immigration

May 15, 2012 at 7:47 am
A federal judge last week issued a preliminary injunction blocking a Springfield ordinance that would have required employers to verify the nationality of all potential employees.

Earlier this year a group calling itself the Ozarks Minutemen presented the Springfield City Council with enough signatures to place the issue on the ballot. In February voters in Springfield narrowly approved the ordinance that would require businesses to use the E-Verify system to screen employees. The law was to go in to effect on June 4.

But in his ruling last week U.S. District Judge Richard Dorr agreed with three Springfield businesses that sued the city over the constitutionality of the ordinance.

As structured, the city's Finance Department -- and not the Municipal Courts -- was to issue penalties against the businesses that violate the law. Plaintiffs in the lawsuit argued that such a structure violated their right to due process, as it limited their ability to legally defend themselves.

Many Springfield leaders praised the judge's decision. They had questioned the constitutionality of the law as presented by the Ozarks Minutemen. But instead of amending the bill to make it legally sound, they instead presented it "as is" to voters with the city manager quoted as saying he was "praying that we'll be sued" over the ordinance.

The Ozarks Minutemen, meanwhile, are calling on city officials to defend the law in court. "This is not the city's ordinance, this is the people's ordinance," Minutemen spokesman Jerry Wilson told the Associated Press.