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It might be time for Walpole to join E-Verify

June 21, 2012

Just a week after President Barack Obama issued an executive order that would allow many young illegal immigrants to stay in the country, Walpole has a chance to tackle the hot-button topic of illegal immigration on the local level.

The Milford Daily News reported on Wednesday that the town of Milford, with a population of about 28,000, will join the IMAGE program through U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement – a free partnership with the federal government that helps employers avoid hiring illegal immigrants. Though Milford officials don’t believe they necessarily have any illegal immigrants on their payroll right now, they hope that signing on to it will encourage local businesses to join too.

According to The Daily News, only about a dozen municipalities across the nation are part of the IMAGE program, and Milford would be the first community in New England in the program. Currently more than 225,000 employers of all sizes across the country use it, and about 1,000 new businesses sign up each week, according to the IMAGE website.

The IMAGE program is essentially a system where employees are verified for immigration status through E-Verify. The system can tell within seconds based on an employee’s I-9 form whether the individual is legally allowed to work in the U.S. If the system makes a mistake, there is an appeals process, as it were, through which an employee can have the information checked, according to the E-Verify website. The employee is still allowed to work while the case is investigated.

“E-Verify is fast, free and easy to use – and it’s the best way employers can ensure a legal workforce,” the IMAGE website states.

In Massachusetts, E-Verify is not required for private or public employers. Personnel Coordinator Valorie Donohue confirmed that Walpole does not currently verify employees for immigration status through the federal government, however the town does require at least two forms of identification for all employees pursuant to federal law.

Walpole should absolutely join IMAGE and start utilizing E-Verify. It is common sense – it helps us avoid hiring illegal immigrants, it is free, and it might send a message to local business owners. There doesn’t seem to be a downside to joining a free program that takes just a few seconds to work.

(180 is not implying in any way that Walpole employs illegal immigrants.)

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