Protest targets immigrant status checks

Community activists in New York organized a day of protests on Sept. 14 against a controversial bill that would require all employers to check the immigration status of their employees.

New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE), together with other organizations and local elected officials from Queens, held a workshop to inform the community about the consequences of the potential E-Verify law if it goes into effect.

“It will lead to more discrimination against undocumented people and those who are suspected of being undocumented,” said Andrés García, an organizer for NICE. “It means that many undocumented individuals will lose their jobs during a time when jobs are scarce and the economy is slow, which would definitely worsen New York State’s economic situation.”

The Workplace Project of Long Island demonstrated outside the offices of Congressman Peter King in Long Island. King is sponsoring the bill along with his colleague, Republican Lamar Smith. More than 288,000 employers already use the E-Verify system, according to the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services website.

“Employers should be able to quickly determine an employee’s legal status to find out if he or she can live and work in the United States. It’s common sense,” said King. “With such a high unemployment rate, it is now more important than ever for jobs to be filled by citizens and legal workers.”

However, Luis Valenzuela, the executive director of the Long Island Immigrant Alliance, contended that E-Verify is “a death sentence for small businesses, especially since their operating costs would increase.”

“All businesses, from the deli on the corner with two employees to the company with a thousand employees, will have to check their employees’ Social Security numbers,” said Nadia Marin-Molina of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.

“This is clearly an attack against undocumented immigrants. Moreover, errors could exist in a company’s database, and it’s very tiresome for businesses to sort through that,” she continued.

The MinKwon Center also held educational workshops for the Korean American community in Flushing, Queens.

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