NorCal Latino Market Chain Facing Backlash Over E-Verify Employment Verification

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(Dept. of Homeland Security)

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) – Labor groups and immigrant rights activists are planning a San Jose protest Thursday following the decision by Northern California’s largest Latino market chain to begin using an employment eligibility verification system.

Mercados Mi Pueblo has begun using the E-verify program to vet the work authorization documents of perspective employees. E-Verify is a free Internet-based system that matches I-9 information provided by workers with Federal records for work eligibility.

The ACLU and other labor groups claim that the system is flawed, citing a Government Accounting Office audit which identified thousands of legal workers who were wrongly denied jobs due to E-Verify. Critics also say the database is prone to hacking and identity theft and disproportionately impacts immigrants, including U.S. citizens.

Supporters of the E-Verify system claim it ensures that jobs are filled only by U.S. citizens and foreigners legally authorized to work and prevents undocumented workers from artificially deflating wages.

According to published reports, Mi Pueblo’s decision comes at the recommendation of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which runs the program in cooperation with the Social Security Administration. A company representative told The Californian.com that the decision will not impact current employees.

Protest organizer Glenda Villalta said in a press release that at least one current San Jose employee claims that the company is requesting that current workers re-submit eligibility documentation.

Villalta also noted that Mi Pueblo is run by former undocumented immigrant Juvenal Chavez, who came to work in the Bay Area in 1984.

Villalta said a press conference to raise awareness about the decision will be held at the Market on Story Rd. in San Jose Thursday at 10:30 a.m.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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