HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
October 9, 2006, Herald Journal

No more guessing for employers

By ROZ KOHLS

Up until recently it has been tough for employers to guess whether a new employee is really authorized to work in the United States, or is an illegal immigrant.

Employers were forced to study Social Security cards, birth certificates, passports or “green cards” and assess if the documents are real or fake. If they guess wrong, they can be accused of discrimination, or of breaking the law by hiring illegals.

As of June 1, 5,000 Dunkin Donut franchises started participating in a government database program called Basic Pilot. Within the first three days of hiring, Dunkin Donuts franchises enter a new employee’s information into a database. About 85 percent of the time, Basic Pilot will report in 10 seconds whether the employee is authorized to work in this country. The other 15 percent takes seven to 10 days to get a report back.

Officials from Dunkin Donuts decided to do this because they received complaints from their customers that the franchises’ employees who couldn’t speak English were here illegally, they said. The Dunkin Donuts managers didn’t have the expertise to determine if the employee’s documents were bogus or real, however.

Soon Applebee’s Restaurant chain found a way to enforce the law, too. The Social Security Administration sent out 8 million no-match letters. Applebee’s used the information to fire workers who didn’t have valid social security numbers.

Of course the open border extremists complained. They accused the two restaurant chains of being racist and are trying to get a boycott going against them.

I’m glad, though, that we are finally making some progress in getting control of our borders. Recently members of Congress approved a 700-mile fence between the United States and Mexico.

Now employers also have some tools to help take the guesswork out of document review.

Way to go, Applebee’s and Dunkin Donuts! It’s a start.