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Politics & Government

Lawmaker proposes stricter checks on workers' citizenship status for state government contractors

michigan state capitol building in lansing, mi
Lester Graham
/
Michigan Radio
Lawmakers in Lansing may have to cut revenue sharing with local governments to fill the $1.8 billion budget hole.

 

A bill in the Michigan Legislature would require all state contractors and subcontractors to check the citizenship status of their employees. Bill sponsor State Representative Jim Runestad, R-White Lake, wants to prevent Michigan citizens from losing jobs to “black market” labor.

The lawmaker is concerned that companies who hire “illegal labor” are unfairly depressing wages, which hurts Michigan workers. Such practices also harm competitors, Runestad said, who cannot compete with the artificially low-cost contracts. Michigan taxpayers should be concerned by undocumented workers “displacing their neighbors” in state jobs, he said.

 

Runestad’s bill proposes requiring any employer who receives public funds to use the E-Verify system, which uses a federal database to determine if an employee is a U.S. citizen or a foreign national who is authorized to work in the United States.

 

While some critics have argued that the system is inaccurate, Runestad called those concerns a “canard,” citing high satisfaction with the program.

 

Hear more from Rep. Runestad, including his description of a similar measure in Oakland County, in our interview above.

 

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