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Bill would force Ohio contractors to verify immigration status

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(The Center Square) – Contractors and larger employers in Ohio could soon be required to verify the immigration status of employers based on a proposed new law.

Reps. Scott Wiggam, R-Wayne County, and D.J. Swearingen, R-Huron, recently introduced legislation that would make contractors and subcontractors verify the immigration status of employees to work on public works construction projects.

“Once implemented, the E-Verify program will help protect Ohio’s workforce against job loss and lower wages by making it harder for human traffickers to exploit illegal workers in Ohio,” Wiggam said. “Illegal labor trafficking hurts Ohio’s workers.”

E-Verify, a free internet-based program, confirms a potential employee’s eligibility by using federal records to confirm work permits, visas and citizenship within three to five seconds.

The legislation would also require contractors and subcontractors on all construction projects besides single-, double- or triple-family homes or agriculture projects to verify employees.

Also, a company with 75 or more employees would have to verify.

“This bill will streamline and ease the hiring process for our employers, while simultaneously empowering the Ohio worker,” Swearingen said. “This legislation is critical as we continue to address Ohio’s workforce needs.”

The Migration Policy Institute estimates there are 89,000 illegal immigrants in Ohio, with the majority being in the state less than five years and around 53,000 between the ages of 25 and 44.

It also estimates 7,000 of those work in the construction industry, while another 8,000 work in manufacturing.

The estimates come from U.S. Census data from 2015-19.

The bill has yet to be assigned a number or a committee.

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