Linn County clears up background check process question

Article author: 
Alex Paul
Article publisher: 
Albany Democrat-Herald
Article date: 
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Article category: 
Oregon Issues
Article Body: 

Linn County does a background check on all job applicants through the Social Security Administration database, but has not used the Department of Homeland Security’s E-Verify database, according to county administrator Ralph Wyatt.

But Wyatt may soon have the county add E-Verify check to its hiring protocol.

Some confusion evolved this week after David Cross of Salem asked in a letter to the editor why E-Verify wasn’t being used.

Commissioner Will Tucker asked staff if all applications were checked to ensure job applicants are legal U.S. residents and he was told they are. He believed it was through the E-Verify system and relayed that information to Cross by e-mail.

“We actually go through the Social Security Administration’s database,” Wyatt said. “We check to make sure all employees have a valid Social Security number.”

Wyatt said the system has not kicked back any applicant for improper Social Security numbers, but has caught problems with spelling or transposed numbers entered into the system.

One reason the county has not used E-Verify is there were some problems with the system when it was first rolled out, Wyatt said.

Wyatt said it does not cost the county anything to belong to either system and Linn County will likely add E-Verify research to its hiring process. In addition to checking the Social Security Administration database, E-Verify also searches more than 80 million Department of Homeland Security records.

“We want to hire only legal residents of the United States, Oregon and Linn County,” Wyatt said. “That’s exactly what’s been happening. The commissioners have a long history of supporting local jobs for legal residents. It’s not what you say, it’s what you do.”

Wyatt said the county has 777 total employees including those who are on-call and part-time. The number of full-time equivalents is 650.

Oregon counties using E-Verify include Clatsop, Deschutes, Harney, Jefferson, Lake, Lane, Lincoln, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Tillamook and Washington.

E-Verify is available to any public or private employer.

The system compares an employee's Form I-9 information with more than 455 million records in the Social Security Administration database and more than 80 million records in Department of Homeland Security’s immigration databases.

According to the Homeland Security’s website, the system is growing by more than 1,400 users per week.
Mailbag: Linn County and E-Verify

Posted: Tuesday, December 13, 2011 8:45 am |

Linn County Commissioners Nyquist, Lindsey, and Tucker should require Linn County government use the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Citizen and Immigration Services (CIS) E-Verify system.

The importance of Linn County using the E-Verify system really becomes apparent with Oregon’s unemployment rate in October being 9.5 percent; 177,350 were unemployed. The county’s October unemployment numbers were at 12.0 percent; 6,125 residents were unemployed.

Unemployed Oregonians who are U.S. citizens or foreign citizens legally present with authorization to work in the country should not have to compete for jobs with a purported 97,000 undocumented foreign national workers illegally in the state.

If all Oregon employers not currently using the E-Verify system were required to use it, Oregon’s unemployment rate would drop dramatically because all new jobs created in the state would go to those authorized to work in the country.

Currently 2,227 Oregon employers use the 98.6 percent accurate E-Verify system. Twelve of 36 Oregon county governments are now using the E-Verify system. Fifty-four Linn County businesses presently use the E-Verify system.

Linn County residents should contact Commissioners Nyquist, Lindsey and Tucker and ask them to require Linn County government use the E-Verify system so if a job opening becomes available to work for the county, a qualified U.S. citizen or foreign citizen legally present with authorization to work in the country can be first in line for that job.

David Olen Cross, Salem (Dec. 12)

Commissioner Will Tucker responded to David Cross and the Democrat-Herald: “Linn County has been using E-Verify since 2009. Checking the system is part of our standard hiring process. We have seen value in this for years, and use it for all of our hires.”