For many years, cities across California were pushed to adopt ordinances ordering businesses to verify that their employees were eligible to work in the U.S. Now, however, legislation has been signed into law that prohibits the state, cities and counties from mandating that private employers use E-Verify. Cities that had previously adopted the now outdated rules are now preparing to comply with the new state law. Fortunately, most of cities and counties have revealed little concern for this change since the new law would require only minor adjustments to remove the E-Verify requirement from contracts.
The state ban on E-Verify received broad support, including the California Chamber of Commerce and the California Farm Bureau Federation, which had for a long time questioned the accuracy of the databases used by the federal system. Assemblyman Paul Fong (D-Sunnyvale), who introduced the bill, said he felt that mandatory E-Verify was an unnecessary burden on businesses. “It was costly, time-consuming. It’s unfair for big businesses and definitely for small businesses,” he said. “Why make a flawed system mandatory?” Mr. Fong said that the system often misidentifies U.S. citizens and legal immigrants. One such worker is Jessica St. Pierre, 22, who said she was fired from her job at a telecommunications company because her name was not correctly entered into the E-Verify system. It took her four months to get another job. “I don’t see it as being a help, but a burden for people that live here,” St. Pierre said. “This system here is just not up to par in what it’s supposed to be doing, so why have it?”