There are currently 213,000 Coloradans officially unemployed. At the same time, 120,000 illegal workers are employed in Colorado, according to the Pew Hispanic Trust. And they are doing the same jobs that many Coloradans have done, are doing, and would like to do at a decent wage.
E-verify will help provide jobs to Colorado workers
I received a lot of positive feedback regarding my last column, "Politicians must act boldly to put Americans back to work."
I wrote how American workers have suffered as a result of our country's cheap labor policies consisting of "free trade" promoting offshoring of jobs and the importation of tens of millions of immigrants to compete with American workers for scarce jobs.
Apr. 13, 2012
I suggested that the No. 1 thing our state legislators could do to provide jobs for unemployed Coloradans would be to pass legislation at the state level requiring all employers to utilize the E-verify system. Nine states have already done so.
Our state elected officials now have that opportunity. The Colorado Mandatory E-verify Act, HB12-1309, is awaiting a hearing before the House Agricultural Committee. It requires all Colorado employers to begin utilizing the federal E-verify system in 2013, for all newly hired employees.
Current Colorado law mandates that employers affirm they have examined the legal work status of newly hired employees, retained file copies of documents, and not knowingly hired an unauthorized worker.
This paper system is out of date and subject to fraud. Utilizing E-verify is simply taking advantage of the latest technology available.
E-verify is an Internet-based system that compares information from an employee's Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, to data from U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration records to confirm employment eligibility.
It has existed since 1997 as a voluntary program. During that time it has undergone continuous improvement, and is now an accurate, effective, and easy to use system which helps employers determine whether new hires are legally authorized to work.
Its usage has grown exponentially to the point where there are 353,852 employers and over 1 million separate work sites using the system in the U.S. (with 17.4 million E-verify cases screened in 2011) and 6,858 employers in Colorado, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
According to outside surveys, the vast majority of participating employers are satisfied with E-verify.
In Fort Collins, there are 220 employers utilizing E-verify including companies in the construction, landscaping, food service, lodging, roofing, and agricultural businesses, among others. These companies are to be commended for doing everything they can to ensure they employ only legal workers, even though this often puts them at a competitive disadvantage to unscrupulous employers who hire illegal workers for lower wages.
There are currently 213,000 Coloradans officially unemployed. If you count the long term unemployed and part-time workers seeking full-time work, the number doubles to 400,000 or 15 percent of our workforce, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Iraq and Afghan war veterans, youth, minorities, and less educated workers have an even higher rate of unemployment. We all see the negative impact of this high, long-term unemployment on our families, neighbors, and community in the form of poverty, homelessness, and an increasing sense of hopelessness.
At the same time, 120,000 illegal workers are employed in Colorado, according to the Pew Hispanic Trust. And they are doing the same jobs that many Coloradans have done, are doing, and would like to do at a decent wage. Don't we have an obligation to our citizens to see that they get any new jobs instead of illegal workers?
There are no longer any good reasons for our elected officials not to require that all employers utilize E-verify to ensure jobs go to legal workers - only increasingly transparent excuses.
Glen Colton is working toward making Fort Collins a sustainable community. He has 23 years of financial experience in high-tech companies. Call him at 225-2760. Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org