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Lawmaker: E-Verify could help stop human trafficking in Ohio

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(The Center Square) – An Ohio lawmaker calls an employer hiring someone living in or having entered the country illegally human trafficking and wants it to stop.

Rep. Scott Wiggam, R-Wayne County, recently testified on behalf of House Bill 327, which would require certain employees to verify the legal status of employees by using the federal I-9 form and getting confirmation of employment eligibility.

“Particularly in our current high-demand labor market, there are far too many instances of noncitizens and minors being taken advantage of – an illegal arrangement between an employer and an employee should be called what it actually is let’s call it – its human trafficking and it needs to stop,” Wiggam recently told the House Commerce and Labor Committee.

The bill would require certain employers to use the free, internet-based E-Verify program to verify work authorization for new hires.

It goes further than federal law, which requires employers to complete the I-9 form within the first three days of employment and hold it for three years.

Employers, however, are not required to submit the form to the federal agency. Ohio’s proposed law would have employers submit the I-9 form to E-Verify. Employee verification of work permits, visas and citizenship is expected back within three to five seconds.

“This legislation uplifts the Ohio worker by ensuring that workers who are in this country illegally will not obtain jobs in Ohio,” said Rep. D.J. Swearingen, R-Huron, the bill’s co-sponsor. “Cheating the system will not be tolerated here in Ohio.”

House Bill 327 would only apply to contractors engaged in state or local public works construction, nonresidential construction contractors and an employer with 75 or more employees within the state.

Similar legislation exists in Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia.

The proposal awaits further action in committee.

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