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ACLU sues Carcieri on immigration order

A day after Kathy Gregg raised some pertinent questions about state cleaning contracts, the ACLU sends word that it is suing Governor Carcieri over his executive order on immigration:

The Rhode Island ACLU today filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of the controversial “immigration executive order” that Governor Donald Carcieri issued in March. Specifically, the lawsuit, filed in R.I. Superior Court by RI ACLU volunteer attorney Randy Olen, challenges the order’s requirement that all vendors and contractors with the state participate in the federal employment authorization system known as E-Verify.

The E-Verify program is an internet database run by the Department of Homeland Security that allows employers to verify the employment eligibility of new hires.  However, since its launch, the E-Verify program has been riddled with significant flaws, and returns inaccurate information regarding the immigration and employment status of new hires – and particularly lawful foreign-born workers – at more than a minimal rate. Studies have also shown that the program has a substantial rate of employer abuse, leading to discrimination against potential employees perceived as “foreign.”

In response to the Governor’s order, the Department of Administration sent a notice to all persons and businesses on the state’s vendor registration list at the end of July, requiring them to certify within 45 days that they and their subcontractors are registered with, and use, the E-Verify program. The notice states that failure to comply will prohibit the recipient from obtaining business from the State in the future and may adversely affect their current contracts.

The ACLU lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) and two Rhode Island College professors – Ann Marie Mumm and Daniel Weisman – who have contracts with the state and object to participation in the program. The suit argues that the Governor exceeded his executive authority in having the order apply to private businesses, and that the order also violates detailed statutes in place governing the state purchasing process.

Noting that the program is being implemented without the adoption of any formal regulations, the suit further argues that implementation of the order, to the extent it is valid, violates the Administrative Procedures Act. That Act requires state agencies to provide advance public notice and an opportunity for public comment before adopting any rules affecting the public. The suit seeks a court order preventing enforcement of this part of the executive order. A hearing on the ACLU’s request for a temporary restraining order is expected within a few days.

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