The other day I came across a short little article from Woonsocket, Rhode Island. First of all, we all just love the name Woonsocket and might have to come up with a reason to visit. But the cute name is not what caught my eye. The article was about the city council voting to start incorporating E-Verify into the city’s hiring process. The vote was 4 to 2, until Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt said she absolutely won’t allow it.
The mayor told the local newspaper that she consulted with the police department and the city’s personnel director, and she believes they do enough to make sure they are only hiring people who can legally work in the United States. Here’s the best quote from the article:
“This isn’t Mexico. We’re not Texas. There is absolutely no evidence we’re hiring illegal aliens.”
I can sense all the eye-rolling going on with you HR experts out there! The mayor goes on to say that E-Verify would tie the city’s hands in the hiring process with too much red tape.
So, where shall we start? First of all, E-Verify is a free program that is relatively easy to use. It provides an automated link to federal databases to help employers check the information a new hire puts on their I-9 form (which is mandatory) against their Social Security Number to confirm that the applicant can work legally. For most businesses, E-Verify is voluntary, but more than 20 states have laws that make it mandatory for certain businesses. Like Ban the Box, the laws definitely seem to be the trend, so you must ask yourself, why not stay ahead of the curve?
As for "not being Texas," illegal immigrants do not hover around the border. According to the Pew Research Center, Mexicans make up 49% of all unauthorized immigrants. The same study also showed that the unauthorized immigrant population is decreasing in most states, but growing in Florida, Idaho, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia. None of them are Texas either.
The bottom line is that we can’t figure out exactly what is making the mayor reject this free government program so vehemently, but we hope others will take a good look at it. E-Verify in conjunction with the Form I-9 can prevent a lot of headaches should ICE officers show up demanding to see your records.