City of Hoquiam will continue making sure local workers are U.S. citizens

The City of Hoquiam will remain the only location within Grays Harbor who will use E-Verify to ensure that all outside workers are US Citizens following discussion from both sides.

According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 began the process by requiring employers to “examine documentation from each newly hired employee to prove his or her identity and eligibility to work in the United States.” In 1997 the pilot program for E-verify was launched, allowing employers to enroll in the program and using paperwork to confirm that their employees are able to work in the U.S.

The conversation began in Hoquiam to remove their affiliation with the program following bids on the thinning of 526 acres and planting of 43 acres of trees within the City watershed. Without the program, their costs could have been approximately $150 per acre, while using the program their option was approximately $250 an acre.

Grays Harbor County removed their E-Verify requirements at the beginning of 2015 following concerns. Commissioner Frank Gordon spoke at the meeting in Hoquiam on Monday.

“I found out that we (were) getting more benefits without having E-Verify”

With a vote on the table to remove the requirements within the City, Councilman Richard Pennant spoke out for removing it.

“I have a hard time getting upset with people that are willing to go out and work cheaper than other people are.”

Following discussion, the council voted 5-2 to continue using the process.

City Administrator Brian Shay says that the city will look at other options to lower costs.

“Knowing that the prices are going to be higher, then we have to be prepared to award the bids at the higher price. I think tonight made it clear that this current council is willing to do that.”

Currently, according to online resources, Washington does not have a statewide E-Verify requirement, but Hoquiam joins only a few cities such as Kennewick, Yakima, and Lakewood with these requirements, along with counties including Clark, Cowlitz, Lewis, Pierce, and Whatcom who maintain the program.



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