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Undocumented Workers Found on US Capitol Grounds Construction Site

An internal report by the Inspector General of the Architect of the Capitol (AOC) shows that several undocumented workers were used during recent construction on capitol grounds.

Though contractors were instructed to use the E-Verify system, the instructions failed to make their way down the chain of subcontractor command. The Inspector General noted that the workers got onto the site through falsified paperwork and that the contractor was attempting to disregard the law, but blamed “internal control weaknesses.”

The E-Verify system, which checks the legitimacy of a worker’s I-9 form against a government database, is a voluntary system. Comprehensive immigration reform, though, is talked about more than it is implemented so E-Verify supporters consider a switch to mandatory use an easy step toward achieving transparency in the near-term.

Republican Senator Marco Rubio, who has been stirring the pot of immigration reform of late, commented on the report. “We know it’s happening across the country. Ultimately, when you have a system that’s not working well, no sector of our economy is immune to it, including government.”

This case, referred to as a “communication breakdown” between contractors and sub-contractors, represents a common problem at all levels of contracting and is thus a perfect example of how E-Verify could help crack down on undocumented workers on job sites:

The illegal workers submitted fraudulent paperwork, the inspector general said, that would have been detected through E-Verify. The requirement to use the system was handed down from the AOC to the prime contractor, who then was supposed to pass that information along to the subcontractors. The first-tier subcontractor got the memo, but the second-tier subcontractor did not.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement who opposes the system, noted that Congress needs to follow the policies it sets for itself.

“Whatever you think of E-Verify, if it’s the policy we’ve adopted for the Capitol and its contractors, then it ought to be enforced,” she said. “We need to take whatever steps necessary to make sure whatever decisions we make as a Congress are successfully implemented.”

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