Background Checks Questioned

Tuesday’s raid at a Greeley meat packing plant has many talking about how companies can make sure their workers are legal U-S citizens.

In November voters passed a new law, that starting in 2008 will create tough penalties for employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants.

Business owners we talked with say even when they look into an applicant's background, in many cases, they won't know, or can't prove someone's hiding something from them.

There are commitments a business owner must fulfill every day:
Keeping customers happy, and the doors open. If they want a legal work force they can also commit to checking the background of those who apply.

"If all that pans out and if it all looks right we have no other way to go other than to believe what they're telling us is correct," said one automotive-parts store owner who wished to remain anonymous.

The owner runs a check, but says there are sometimes some obvious red flags he can spot:

"You can tell the social security card they have or their ID is faked up."

But when the immigration form, social security number and license come back legitimate, it's time to get to work.

"I just don't know how much further we would have to go and what we would have to do to make sure they are legal," he said.

And though voters passed a measure that could penalize him for hiring an illegal worker, lawmakers admit there's no sure-fire method employers can use.

"Not yet at least technology has not yet made available a single unified national foolproof instantaneous system where an employer can punch in the identifying information and get back a result,” said Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff.

But with another company in the spotlight and hundreds of workers arrested, this employer says the pressure is on to get it right.

“It does make you a little nervous," he said.

House Speaker Romanoff says a national I-D card could help.

But opponents raise questions about civil liberties ... For example what an employer or possibly anyone else might be able to find out about you.


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