Poplar Bluff businesses don't see many illegal immigrants

By Tyler Profilet - bio | email

POPLAR BLUFF, MO (KFVS) - A day after authorities arrested five people on immigration charges in Poplar Bluff, residents say they're surprised the problem hit their community.

But, Missouri has passed several laws over the past couple of years to help protect taxpayers from illegal immigrants.

Missouri lawmakers passed a law last year that requires colleges like Three Rivers Community College to certify to the state that they have not given any money to people here illegally.

But organizations in Poplar Bluff say they don't run into many cases dealing with illegal immigrants.

The financial aid office at Three Rivers Community College says it doesn't deal with many international students applying for assistance.

But TRCC spokesperson Megan Keathley says international students are checked for proper identification when filling out their FAFSA form.

"At the top of the FAFSA, it's going to ask your for your social security or your alien registration number if you're not a citizen, but you are living in this country legally," she said.  "If you cannot provide a social security number or alien registration ID, it's typically flagged by the department of education."

Keathley says Three Rivers won't offer any in house scholarships to students who can't complete the FAFSA form, and the admissions office won't let them register for classes without proper ID as well.

"I'm told it's very rare that part of the admission application is not filled out, it's just not typically a problem," she said.

Along with the law that protects state financial aid, a 2008 law also protects taxpayers from illegal immigrants using Missouri HealthNET to pay for health care.

Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center spokesperson Tiffany Jenkins says the billing office does not see this problem frequently, as she says if the hospital treats any illegals, they typically go to the emergency room.

Another bill passed in 2008 requires the highway patrol to verify the immigration status of any person arrested, and inform federal authorities if they are illegal.

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