LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – An Arkansas lawmaker has introduced legislation targeting the federal minimum wage and citizenship.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) introduced the Higher Wages for American Workers Act of 2023 on Wednesday. The bill proposes a jump in the federal minimum wage, but only if employees can verify their citizenship status.
The bill would increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $11 per hour over four years. It also had graduated federal minimum pay raises for under-age workers. Employers with less than 20 employees will have a slower phase-in.
The bill also mandates using E-Verify by employers to confirm a worker’s employment eligibility while raising penalties against employers who hire unauthorized workers or violate record-keeping requirements. Employees over 18 must present a picture ID that will be cross-checked against E-Verify records, according to the bill’s language.
Cotton said the legislation addresses two issues.
“American workers today compete against millions of illegal immigrants for too few jobs with wages that are too low—that’s unfair,” he said. “Ending the black market for illegal labor will open up jobs for Americans. Raising the minimum wage will allow Americans filling those jobs to better support their families. Our bill does both.”
Future federal minimum wage increases will be indexed to inflation every two years if the bill passes. The bill’s language is also clear that no national ID card would result from it becoming law.
Co-sponsors of the bill are senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-West Virginia), Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and J.D. Vance (R-Ohio).