Washington's Lakewood will use system to check workers' legal status

Next month, Lakewood will become the first city in Washington state to screen some employees and hundreds of private contractors via a controversial federal verification program.

The Lakewood City Council late Monday night passed an ordinance to require contractors to enroll in E-Verify, a free system that checks a person’s identity against several federal databases.

The city will also run the identities of new employees through E-Verify, although officials stressed they won’t check current employees.

The 12-year-old identification program is one way for employers to weed out undocumented workers. With the nation divided over the issue of those workers’ rights, Pierce County's second-largest city thrust itself into the middle of the debate.

Lakewood leaders had discussed E-Verify the past two months. On Monday night, the majority of the council was ready to adopt it. The vote was 6-1.

Councilman Don Anderson said other cities and governments who use E-Verify are happy to have it.

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