Thursday, January 6, 2011

Chafee Turns Back on E-Verify

Republican-turned-independent Lincoln Chafee, the new governor of Rhode Island, breaks with the past gubernatorial administration and reverses a measure instructing state agencies to verify the eligibility of potential employees to work legally in the United States:

The 2008 order, which sparked protests and heated debate, directed state departments and vendors to use the federal E-Verify database to check the legal status of new hires. It also required State Police to enter an agreement with federal immigration authorities.

The agreement, known as 287(g), gave specialized immigration enforcement training to some troopers, allowing them direct access to an electronic immigration database to quickly check if a suspect in custody is in the country illegally.

The unemployment rate in Rhode Island is 11.6%, which is one of the worst in the nation. David Frum has wondered about the seeming absence of a voice for the American worker in many elite debates about immigration, and Chafee's repeal may provoke more thoughts along the same lines.

Rhode Island legislators are proposing a bill that would reinstate E-Verify in the state hiring process.

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