Feds' screening for illegal workers begins next week
SANTA ANA, Calif., Sep 04, 2009 (The Orange County Register - McClatchy-Tribune News Service via COMTEX) --
Anyone who does business with the federal government will soon be required to use a federal system that is intended to weed out employees without authorization to work in the country.
After Labor Day weekend, those federal contractors and subcontractors will have to use E-Verify, which allow employers to check the validity of a new hire's Social Security number and other Form I-9 information, such as a name.
The new mandate goes into effect Sep. 8, a couple of months after Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced the administration's support for the regulation, awarding federal contractors only to employers who use E-Verify.
The new rule extends to employers who receive American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds, as part of the $787 billion stimulus package.
Employers who contract with the federal government after Sept. 8 will have 30 days after the contract to enroll. These employers will have to use E-Verify to confirm existing hires, and all new hires, whether employed on a federal contract or not.
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Jim Rieff owns Rieff Construction in Fountain Valley, Calif., one of the roughly 4,000 California businesses using E-Verify. He said he had to wait eight weeks for one of his employees to clear.
"He's a permanent resident who has been living here for 20-something odd years," Rieff said. "It was frustrating for me and for (him) as well, but finally it took."
However, he said, he believes the system is well worth it and thinks all employers should use E-Verify.
"I'm totally in favor of it," Rieff told The Orange County Register.
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Critics say the federal databases are outdated and prevent some people who are authorized to work from employment.
Analysts at the Immigration Policy Center in Washington, D.C., say savvy illegal immigrants will find a way to beat the system by acquiring a Social Security number and name that match or other means.
Also, center analysts say E-Verify relies on an error-ridden database that includes 17.8 million discrepancies, of which more than 12 million pertain to native-born U.S. citizens. The Immigration Policy Center is a Washington, D.C., pro-immigration think tank.
Anti-illegal immigration activists say it's the best tool for discouraging illegal employment, stating that it should be mandatory for every employer.
Only a few states, such as Arizona and Georgia, have chosen to require businesses to use the program.
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