R.I. governor sued for order on immigrants
PROVIDENCE, - A civil rights group filed a lawsuit yesterday seeking to block Governor Don Carcieri from enforcing an executive order requiring some private employers to electronically check the immigration status of new hires.
The lawsuit, filed by the state branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, challenges an executive order that Carcieri signed in March to restrict illegal immigration.
Carcieri's order requires state police and prison officials to identify illegal immigrants for possible deportation. It also forces state agencies and companies doing business with the state to use a federal database called E-Verify to check the immigration status of new employees. Companies that refuse to comply could lose their state contracts.
The ACLU argues that E-Verify disproportionately identifies foreign-born employees as ineligible to work and that the database could encourage employers to discriminate against workers who appear foreign.
A 2007 report commissioned by the US Department of Homeland Security showed 96 percent of people claiming to be US citizens were cleared by the database on the first try. But the report said 3 percent of foreign-born workers were erroneously rejected by the E-Verify system compared with 0.1 percent of US citizens born here. The report cautioned that the error rates cannot be fixed quickly.
The lawsuit accuses Carcieri of violating the state constitution by interfering with existing contracts and by enforcing an executive order that conflicts with purchasing laws adopted by the General Assembly. It also states Carcieri failed to hold a public hearing about the rules as required by law.
Carcieri spokeswoman Amy Kempe said the governor was within his authority.