The Herndon Town Council has implemented a federal worker verification program that will require employers to check the work status of any prospective day laborer before hiring them.
In a November resolution, the council directed Town Manager Art Anselene to implement a campaign informing those who employ day workers that it is illegal to hire workers on private property and that federal law prohibits hiring workers without an employment check, typically conducted via completion of a federal I-9 form.
All employers are generally required to have workers fill out the form upon being hired, although Town Attorney Richard Kaufman has admitted there is some legal ambivalence as to whether this applies to day laborers.
Nonetheless, beginning next week, 12 signs incorporating this message will be erected at the approaches to Elden Street and the Alabama Drive intersection. Some will be placed in front of a local McDonalds, others at the side entrance to a local ping center and others near the Elden Street entrance to the Amphora Diner.
According to town spokesperson Anne Curtis, a box filled with I-9 forms will be attached to each of the 12 signs. “Similar to real estate signs,” she said. All employers will need is a pen.
Forms will also be available at the Herndon Municipal Center, and Herndon’s Neighborhood Resource Center.
The program’s implementation will also be advertised in local newspapers, and information will be available via the town’s Web site at www.herndon-va.gov.
“The town’s zoning ordinance prohibits the hiring of day workers on private property – and federal law prohibits the hiring of day workers without an employment check, or I-9 form,” said Mayor Steve DeBenedittis. “Our aim with this campaign is to educate employers of day workers to these requirements and to follow through with our own zoning enforcement activity and with direct contact to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement if we note violations to these requirements.”
Once implemented, Curtis said that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), would be contacted if it is observed that employers are not complying with the program. She added however, that there would be no “formal” observation put in place until at least June 2009, when the program and any additional resources will be re-evaluated.
Anselene estimates that the cost of the program to the town will range between $4,000 to $7,000 for the six-month period of December 2008 through June 2009.