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Illegal Immigration

County Bars Contractors from Using Illegal Workers

Aug-29-07

Anne Arundel County is the first county in the Maryland to ban companies from using illegal aliens to perform tasks involving contracts with the county. Contractors doing business with the county will be required to certify they have no illegal immigrants on the payroll.

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The Anne Arundel County order, issued this week by Republican County Executive John R. Leopold, requires contractors to sign an affidavit swearing they do not employ people living in the country illegally.

According to the order, evidence that a company has hired illegal immigrants would constitute a "material breach of contract," allowing the county to drop the contractor from the job.

"Any company that is complying with federal law and not hiring illegal immigrants will have nothing to be concerned about," Leopold said. The directive is the first of its kind in the state.

Leopold said the county will only act if the federal Immigrations and Customs Enforcement brings a violation to its attention. "We don't want to utilize County Property Researchfor this effort. We won't be intrusive," he said.

Bob Burdon, president of the Anne Arundel Chamber of Commerce, told KATV-News the order offends local business owners by implying that they are not following the law.

Gustavo Torres, executive director of Casa de Maryland, worried that the policy could  hurt businesses that use immigrant labor and might add to discrimination of Hispanics.

"Trying to resolve a federal issue with an executive order, from my viewpoint, is something that's not productive for the county," Torres said.

Across the country, local officials and citizens are becoming increasingly frustrated with contractors who insist on using illegal workers that could pose a security, legal, and economic liability to local government.

Two months ago, in Wisconsin,  the Green Bay city council passed an ordinance stating that any business that hires illegal immigrants could have licenses, contracts, and city grants taken away.

Last year Brazoria County Texas District Attorney Jeri Yenne suspected companies using illegal workers posed a security risk to the county. She asked Homeland Security to investigate and discovered that more than half of the workers in the courthouse at night  had false Social Security cards.

Yenne blamed the situation on the on the company the county contracted for janitorial service, Sterling Building Specialists of Houston, which the county had paid $412,000 since 2002.

Many workers who are legally hired by companies are also becoming frustrated by employers who insist on hiring illegal immigrants. Employees at companies who hire illegal immigrants are filing lawsuits under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) law, claiming their employers' actions are lowering wages.

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