Folks in the lowcountry react to new e-verify requirements | News
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC (WTOC)- The new E-Verify laws will affect the South Carolina immigrant communities as well as businesses throughout the state. Many question how much pressure new requirements like E-Verify are going to put on small businesses.
"They spend so much time and money in the post fact laws. We have these illegal immigrants, how about becoming more realistic with the overall issue and saying how do we become more open and allowing for the demands that we have," says Eric Esquivel of the Lowcountry Immigration Alliance.
Kevin Kowal owns an employment agency and the E-Verify requirements can be intimidating.
"It's not just the burden, it's the fear. You know, if we do something wrong, we get a $10,000 fine," said Kowal, owner of the Coastal Connections Employment Agency.
If it's a second offense, the business can be shut down for 10 to 30 days. E-Verify requires that information about every new employee be run through a national database to validate employment eligibility.
Employers can log on to E-Verify fairly easily and it's free. They just submit a form about an employee. But, that's not necessarily where the burden comes into play. The burden on small businesses happen when a name comes back from the feds with a problem.
That's when Kowal says he and his team will have to take time away from their jobs to internally investigate where the problem is. Sometimes its a glitch in the system, sometimes the potential employee is here illegally.
"And it does happen. It doesn't matter whether you are Spanish speaking or native born here in the lowcountry, there are kickbacks and now we have to go through the process of verifying their eligibility," Kowal said.
Kowal's been using E-Verify for two years because he says he saw the changes coming. E-Verify was signed into law in South Carolina last summer but didn't go into effect until now.
There are some exemptions to South Carolina's E-Verify requirements: agricultural workers, domestic servants and clergy.
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