Washougal Council re-affirms use of E-Verify

Recent vote opposes state legislation to the contrary

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Five Washougal City Council members oppose any future state legislation that would prevent local jurisdictions from using the E-Verify system.

Dave Shoemaker, Caryn Plinski, Jennifer McDaniel, Connie Jo Freeman and Jon Russell voted Feb. 21, in favor of a resolution that endorsed the use of E-Verify.

State House Bill 2568, which had been introduced during the current legislative session, would preempt local governments from utilizing E-Verify. Shoemaker said it would be “an attempt by Olympia to run Washougal.”

The bill did not pass out of the House by the cut-off date.

Currently, companies that have contracts of $100,000 or more with the city of Washougal are required to ensure that their employees have the lawful right to work in the U.S. The Washougal City Council passed a resolution in December 2009, that requires contractors to ensure their employees pass the E-Verify confirmation.

It made Washougal the first city in Southwest Washington to require contractors doing business with the city to verify the legal status of their employees. E-Verify is a free Internet-based system operated by the Department of Homeland Security in partnership with the Social Security Administration.

Joyce Lindsay said the council’s newest resolution was too broad.

Paul Greenlee talked about an E-Verify error rate that has caused some U.S. citizens or individuals with residency permits to be blocked.

Those included some women who changed their last names after going through divorces and were experiencing delays of up to 14 months by the Social Security Administration.

“More than 50 percent of illegal immigrants would be approved [by E-Verify], because they have false, adequate documentation,” Greenlee added.

Russell said the E-Verify resolution is designed to “weed out the contractors who are not playing by the rules.”

Copies of the council’s resolution have been sent to state legislators and Gov. Chris Gregoire.

Meanwhile, the Washougal Council is expected to vote on an amended version of its 2009 resolution during its regular meeting Monday, at 7 p.m. It would require the use of E-Verify by all businesses entering into a contract with the city for any amount, as low as $0.