The Senate's top Democrat, Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs, however, chided the Republicans, saying he understands their frustration with the federal government because "George Bush has done nothing on the subject."
The GOP plan would, among other things, authorize immigration and customs enforcement, or ICE, training for local law enforcement should local jurisdictions choose to participate. State troopers would also go through this ICE training.
The Republicans also want to prevent illegals from enrolling in Iowa universities and community colleges and prevent them from receiving tuition assistance.
"It is no longer acceptable for our Regent Institutions to give in-state tuition to illegal immigrants," said Sen. Jeff Angelo of Creston. "Legal Iowans should have that opportunity, but not illegal, undocumented immigrants."
Employers would be required to use a status verification system to check all employees for alien status prior to hiring. The plan would also provide compliance assistance to businesses by coordinating with Iowa Workforce Development to verify questionable work papers or legal documentations that might expire while an employee awaits an extension/change of status decision by the federal government.
"Our rules for businesses will be reasonable, consistent and enforceable. If businesses follow the rules, they have nothing to fear," said Sen. Paul McKinley of Chariton.
Also under the plan, any person taken into law enforcement custody for any reason would have to be checked for alien status. Anyone caught harboring or sheltering an illegal would be charged with a felony.
Gronstal said that 80 percent to 90 percent of the measures in the plan are really functions for the federal government and suggested state Republicans should contact Washington lawmakers to start taking action. He added that to train local law enforcement officers for immigration and customs enforcement would take them off the streets or reduce their efforts in dealing with crimes like meth distribution, duties they were hired for to protect Iowa's citizens.
The Democrats are working on their own plan, Gronstal said, which will go after the main cause of illegal immigration - jobs.
"We think we need to crack down on corporate C.E.O.s who knowingly hire illegals. These corporations do it to drive down salaries. It's not fair to Iowa businesses that play by the rules," he said.
The Democrats' plan would impose both a fine and jail time for those C.E.O.s who knowingly hire illegals, Gronstal said. The specifics are currently being worked on in a committee, he said.