The good news first: Thanks to Governor Herbert for finally signing SB251 yesterday. SB251 will have employers use E-Verify (a free, rapid response system) to make sure they hire legal workers. More importantly the system will prevent the vast majority of identity theft for employment (much of which targets children’s identities). For more on E-Verify, click here for posts on it, or here to go to the program’s page. ID theft information can be found here.
Now for a stark word of warning and vigilance:
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert plans on calling the Legislature into a special session to water down a bill he’s signed into law requiring businesses to confirm the immigration status of their new employees.
Herbert signed the measure Wednesday, and his spokeswoman says the governor will call lawmakers back to work to amend it before it takes effect July 1.
The bill was already watered down so there were no penalties for businesses that failed to comply.
Herbert says he wants to amend the bill so it makes clear that using the federal E-Verify program is voluntary.
First of all the bill was already watered down to remove penalties for non-compliance. Now he wants to further make it voluntary. That’s baloney, pure and simple. Doing so completely demolishes the bill – E-Verify is already voluntary. The whole point of the bill was to level the playing field and have all businesses use the program! Note: over 2,000 Utah businesses (including the LDS Church) use the program.
Is it really the Governor’s intention to gut the bill and ensure business can hire illegal labor (be it illegal immigrants, fugitives or deadbeats)? Is he ready to turn a blind eye to the child victims of identity theft (and wrongly arrested Utahns) and the destructive nature of such hiring practices?
That being said, I’ve heard a rumor that the intent is only to alter the bill to delay implementation for one year. Some larger businesses were concerned that 90 days may be insufficient time to change their IT systems and train users and HR depts. They may have a point there and a slight delay is acceptable to me for such, with the condition that nothing else is altered. However, I have seen no indication of the above in Governor Herbert’s press release nor the KSL story. Also keep in mind that it was citizen action that saved the bill from a veto.
Parting shot: The linked Governor’s press release notes that he met with business and minority community groups. I would sure like to know how much time he spent with average Utah citizen groups and identity theft victims compared to his meetings with the aforementioned politically-connected interests…
UPDATE: It looks like Herbert wants to gut the bill. His intent is not to delay the bill for one year, but to make it completely voluntary (E-Verify use already is) and leave it up to legislators to come back with a new bill in the 2011 session. The spin is that it will, thus, be voluntary for a year…and maybe the legislature will decide to do something the next year. Basically, he wants to take both sides and do an “ex post facto” veto while also claiming he signed the bill. His strategy is a very John Kerryesque “I was for it before I was against it”. That’s not leadership worth voting for in my book.