Last night, the Denver City Council passed an ordinance requiring construction contractors bidding on city contracts to verify the immigration status of their employees. The new rule is effective Oct. 1.
The ordinance, which passed by a 9-4 vote, requires construction firms to use the federal E-Verify program and vouch for their employees’ immigration status if they want to obtain a city contract.
“This is saying, ‘We’re doing our best as a city to make sure our contractors . . . are using workers who are qualified to work under the laws of the land,’ ” said Councilwoman Jeanne Faatz, who co-sponsored the ordinance. “No citizen or legal resident should have to compete with workers who are here illegally,” said Councilman Charlie Brown.
E-Verify is an online database where employers may verify information on an employee’s I-9 form. This form contains information such as Social Security numbers. The data on this site is cross-referenced with data from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration.
Some believe the E-Verify program is unreliable and may cause problems for legal workers if they are mistakenly listed as illegal.
“I still have grave concerns over the integrity of the E-Verify program,” said Councilwoman Paula Sandoval, who voted against the bill.
Councilman Doug Linkhart is concerned about a section requiring the city to report companies not in compliance with the ordinance to federal officials. “I think that’s a bad place to put the city in,” said Linkhart, who also voted against the proposal.
Council members Paul Lopez and Judy Montero also voted no.
Councilwoman Carol Boigon added an amendment to the ordinance Monday to ensure an appeals process for employees who say they are wrongly disqualified and to require a review of the new system in a year.
“The E-Verify program,” Boigon cautioned while stumping for the amendment, “is not infallible.”
Ed Haselden, CEO of Haselden Construction says, “Haselden Construction is pleased that the federal E-Verify system is becoming more widely accepted across state and local entities. In 2007, Haselden became an early adopter of the federal E-Verify system and its predecessor system designed to instantly verify an individual’s eligibility to work in the United States. We believe the adoption of the system in Denver is a great thing for Haselden and the Industry as it helps ensure our compliance with the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA). We believe the new regulation affords the ability of all construction firms to compete and operate on a more level playing field when it comes to compliance with IRCA.”