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Dueling Protests Planned Over Workers’ Immigration Status

Dueling protests are planned today before the Temecula City Council votes on a measure that would require local businesses to confirm a new hire’s immigration status, or risk losing their license to operate in the city.

Temecula is poised to follow its neighbors, Lake Elsinore and Menifee, in implementing the E-Verify program, which draws on the resources of the Social Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security to determine whether someone can legally work in the United States.

Business owners can get an answer about eligibility in seconds, using only an Internet browser, according to the Temecula City Attorney’s Office. E- Verify costs nothing to use, city officials said.

Under the proposed ordinance, a business operator who knowingly hires an undocumented worker could have his or her license revoked.

The Inland Empire Rapid Response Network, which provides an immigrant assistance hotline, is sponsoring a demonstration against the E-Verify ordinance outside Temecula City Hall two hours before tomorrow’s 7 p.m. City Council meeting.

Around 100 people are expected. Those slated to speak include individuals who say they’ve been targets of racial profiling, according to spokeswoman Jennaya Dunlap.

“We feel E-Verify causes as many problems for legal immigrants as for illegal immigrants,” she told City News Service. “The city is trying to enforce immigration law, which is a federal issue.”

A counter-protest is planned at the same location. Ted Wegener, a Menifee real estate appraiser and Tea Party activist, will be leading that rally.

Wegener released a statement today dismissing accusations that the Temecula ordinance has racial overtones.

“There is nothing `racist’ about wanting Temecula … to ensure workers are legal,” he said. “Temecula is not taking an `anti-immigration’ stance; they are taking an `anti-illegal immigration’ stance, something the open border crowd seems incapable of understanding.”

E-Verify was established in 1997 under the federal Illegal Immigration & Immigration Responsibility Act. Since then, 142,178 employers have enrolled in the program.

As of the end of last year, three states — Arizona, Mississippi and South Carolina — have passed laws requiring that all employers use it.

Nine other states have laws that require contractors working on publicly financed projects to enroll in E-Verify. California is not among them.

It was unclear how many municipalities nationwide have ordinances mandating the use of E-Verify.

KESQ News Team

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