Backyard Activism: A Simple At-Home Tactic
The roof leaks, the fence is broken, and the grass needs mowing. Spring is fix-it time and you need help, but how do you proceed ethically if you’re concerned about illegal immigration? After all, with 15.5 million illegal aliens already in the U.S., and more than 200,000 entering monthly, it’s a good bet your local contractor hires them at local day-labor centers matching unscrupulous employers with those who have no legal right to be employed.
It’s a problem foisted on thousands of communities nationwide by our government’s failure to enforce immigration law. The consequence is that anyone selecting contractors can become complicit in this illicit labor scheme; just ask former presidential candidate Mitt Romney whose alleged use of illegal labor on his property became an embarrassing issue for him during the 2012 presidential campaign.
Yet as is often the case, knowledge and grassroots action are the keys, and there is an at-home remedy.
The first step is to simply ask how your selected contractor verifies legal status. Many small firms answer this inquiry by robotically stating they, “I-9” everyone, referring to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employee Eligibility Verification process that requires new employees to provide documents proving they have the right to work. This sounds fine if there was not widespread counterfeiting of identity papers and theft of Social Security numbers, potentially affecting nearly 40 million Americans. Because of that, even honest employers who earnestly use the I-9 process don’t have time, or the expertise, to adequately verify the authenticity of government-issued identification or work authorization documents.
That’s why your second, more desired step, is to ask if the company uses E-Verify, and if not, why not? E-Verify is the real meat and potatoes of worksite authorization, offering an effective electronic alternative to the old paper-based I-9 system. Social Security numbers or alien identification numbers of new hires are checked against government records to weed out the duplicative and fraudulent.
Businesses (those who actually want to avoid hiring illegal workers) depend on E-Verify because it’s fast, easy, and free to use, and it means that they’re no longer expected to be document experts. When a company uses E-Verify, the liability of determining the legal status of an employee is placed on the U.S. government, not the employer. So if a mistake is made, the employer is off the hook – provided it was using E-Verify.
Should you want to prove — beyond verbal assurances — that a company is enrolled in E-Verify, it’s a simple matter of asking to see their Memorandum of Understanding Agreement. It’s your right to scrutinize the hiring policies of those you deal with, and nothing prohibits a company from sharing this document. You’re asking for hiring policies, not personally identifying information.
Remember, even if a company claims to comply with the law using the I-9 process, that’s not a guarantee their employees have lawful status. But, to be fair, it’s a lot better than many small firms that do nothing. However, E-Verify is the gold standard for weeding out unauthorized workers in addition to being fast, simple, and free for hiring managers.
We know. It won’t be easy, it takes some nerve to ask questions, and your contractor may twirl his mustache while he spins dubious claims about hiring standards. It may even turn out you don’t know for certain…but at least you inquired.
If enough folks force the issue, businesses will get the message as they lose profits to others who understand “Hiring Legally Authorized Workers Only” is an appealing competitive advantage. The free market is funny that way, always responding rapidly toward demand.
Be persistent, and just maybe in the process of getting things fixed around our homes, we’ll be fixing our immigration crisis as well by shutting off the jobs magnet.