Clark County to require contractors check workers' immigration status

Published: 09/02/09 2:41 pm
Updated: 09/02/09 2:42 pm
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Companies contracted by Clark County for projects worth more than $1 million will be required to check their workers' immigration status in the United States, county commissioners decided Tuesday.

The Vancouver Columbian reports that the new rule will require contractors in this southwest Washington county to use the federal E-Verify program, which checks a person's legal status in the United States.

"It's important that we get into the 21st century with federal regulations," said Commissioner Tom Mielke, who backed the new rule.

The new rule also includes subcontractors, said Mark McCauley, the county's general services director.

Commissioners passed the new rule on a 3-0 vote. The county joins a growing number of municipalities and businesses in the state that use E-Verify. Arizona and Mississippi require all companies to use E-Verify.

Next week, a similar federal requirement that mandates federal contractors to use E-Verify takes effect. That rule is for contracts that cost more than $100,000, last more than 120 days and don't consist entirely of commercially available products.

The county's new rule will only affect a handful of contracts - those over $1 million. That mostly includes road projects and some social service contracts.

Expectedly, foes and advocates of illegal immigration in Clark County reacted differently to the rule.

"We can take this victory here and go to all the other cities in Clark County," said Chuck Miller of Camas. His group - Washington Citizens for Responsible Government - has lobbied local government to check illegal immigration.

Miller added he expects other cities and towns in the region to follow the county's lead.

But a local advocacy group said that requiring E-Verify will only drive undocumented workers further into "the underground economy" if Congress doesn't pass a bill overhauling the nation's immigration rules.

Meanwhile, Maria Rodriguez-Salazar, an advocate for undocumented workers said the county needs to pay attention to the minority of people who may be incorrectly denied work.

"In government, there is no perfect system," she said. "There's always going to be flaws."

E-Verify allows employers to enter the name and social security number of any prospective employee and check whether those match. The site also includes pictures of individuals. The program must be used during the hiring process, not after the worker is hired. ... source=rss