DENVER (CBS4) – Federal officials are expanding their investigation into illegal immigrants hired by Denver based Chipotle restaurants.

Immigration enforcement is now looking at the documents for workers at 60 stores. None of those stores are in Colorado.

The investigation comes as some Colorado lawmakers want to mandate that businesses verify the citizenship of their workers.

It wouldn’t matter if you have one employee or 1,000, businesses would have to put them all through the federal electronic verification, or E-Verify, program to make sure they are legal residents.

Chipotle said it may start verifying documentation anyway. This after Chipotle was forced to fire hundreds of workers the company thought were legal when they found out they were illegal.

Hundreds of Colorado companies already participate in E-Verify, but they do so voluntarily. Senate Bill 129 would make it mandatory for all companies to use the system. Those who choose not to participate would face hefty fines and could even lose their business license.

“We’re going after the employer not employee with this bill. We’re going after those knowingly hiring illegal immigrants and encouraging them to come here,” State Sen. Ted Harvey of Highlands Ranch said.

Harvey is the bill’s sponsor. He said as long as businesses fire anybody flagged by E-Verify they’re off the hook.

So far groups representing business interests aren’t taking a position on the idea.

“It’ll be interesting to see who will come out against a bill that says you can only hire legal immigrants in the United States,” Harvey said.

Alan Kaplan with the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition isn’t a fan of the idea.

“We think mandatory E-Verify is not the right way to go,” Kaplan said.

Kaplan said companies who employ illegal immigrants won’t participate in the program hurting taxpayers.

He said legal residents will also be hurt.

“We feel that people with Latino surnames are much less likely to even end up in a hiring pool at this point,” Kaplan said.

There will be a cost to employers as well. Ryan Adair with Mountain States Employers Council represents 3,000 businesses.

“You have IT costs, computers and that sort of thing. Beyond that you have training costs. You have to have somebody who can do the E-Verification. When the system changes you have to up-train those individuals so that they can stay on top with complying with E-Verify. And then down the road you have to have somebody that can circle back and stay on top of these and monitor them for what may be weeks or even months,” Adair said.

For companies like Chipotle the benefits may outweigh the costs.

The state of Colorado and the city of Denver already require E-Verify for all of their employees. Four other states including Arizona, Mississippi, South Carolina and Utah require it for all companies.

While the business community is not fighting E-Verify in Colorado, the bill does not have bipartisan support. So it will have a tough time making it out of the Senate, where democrats have the majority.

Gov. John Hickenlooper has not taken a position on the bill.

Comments (18)
  1. Mike says:

    All businesses should have to verify their employees. Just because someone signs an I-9 Form doesn’t mean they are legal.

  2. jb80538 says:

    I’m all for it! if illegals can’t get jobs, maybe they will “self deport!”

  3. Guest says:

    The illegal aliens who are taking advantage of the U.S. social services programs are draining our country. We must stop them and E-verify may not be the best way, but, at this time, it’s all we have. The costs of stolen identities, overuse of healthcare and emergency rooms, cost of educating children that are not citizens; all these are killing our states and nation. I understand they want a better life, but if it comes at the expense of the citizens of the U.S., then, it has to stop. Let them make their own country better if they don’t like it.

  4. deano says:

    Great idea, twenty years to late. Damn it.

  5. Steve B. says:

    Wasn’t that the purpose of the I-9 to begin with? Oh wait, that had to be watered down, too.

  6. Ken Hampshire says:

    It is just amazing how simple things have to become for people to get it. Quit giving the illegals jobs and they’ll stop coming. Now to get rid of the millions of illegals already here and dropping thousands more every year.

  7. Joe Wilson says:

    Greed is draining our Country no Illegals

  8. druid0621 says:

    The problem with E-Verify is that it has lots of problems. One of my former companies used it with great difficulty, and inaccuracy. If it can be improved, this is certainly the way to go. We need to take every measure possible to ensure that illegals are not permitted to work here. What the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition has to say is irrelevant. They should focus on LEGAL immigrants, not those whose first act upon coming here is to break our laws.

  9. Carla says:

    It is about time. And on another thought, maybe Americans could get their jobs back, especially in the construction industry. Also, why are they talking of giving illegal students in-state college tuition. Why? They won’t be able to get a job after they are done anyway. What part of illegal doesn’t the state get?

  10. duane says:

    being an illegal immigrant is not a crime; and by the way they can’t recieve social service either; but if a person can on the message board’s and no or state full well that illegal immigratn’s are recieving social service’s then the person that state’s and know’s the fact should be as guilty as the immigrant themselve’s, it is more of a crime I’m pretty much sure of a crime in progresse then of a just labeling or somebody being labeled as such

    1. John Craco Sr. says:

      DId you really just say that?
      Being here illegaly IS A CRIME I guess supporters of Illegal Immigration just want to hear what they want.
      Their very existence inside the US is a crime you dope,
      If you are so worried about their well being why don’t you let them live at your house and pay all their bills?
      It’s pretty plain the American Public is growing tired of this act.

    2. EPIC FAIL says:

      Baing an ILLEGAL immigrant is not a crime, emphasis mine.
      Please advise the meaning of illegal as it applies here then duane.
      Please do tell us you definition of illegal. This should be most enlighening.

  11. K says:

    I have done E-verify for years, there is not a lot of training involved AT ALL. Just an excuse not to use it. It is a very simple process and takes no more than 5 minutes to verify an employee.

  12. John Steel says:

    Mr. Kaplan needs to learn to distinguish between LEGAL and ILLEGAL immigrants. Or be charged as an accessory.

    I hope he is run over by an illegal soon.

  13. jojo says:

    This investigation won’t happen in Colorado. Even if it did and hundreds of illegals were caught, how will these vacant spots be filled? Not by Americans maybe H-1B workers. Americans are to uppity facebooking at starbucks

  14. Monte Potter says:

    I handle E-Verify for my company. It is easy to learn, takes less than 5 minutes per person checked, and results are nearly instantanious. Protections are in place for anyone not immediately comming up as “approved”. If only all governmental programs were this easy to deal with.

  15. Wayne Walters says:

    I am confused, is this not what the I-9 is to accomplish? Employers have found a way around it whats to say the E verify will be any different? Costs of IT training and up training, bull. On almost any government site the forms can be filled out by my 6 year old nephew. Fine the employers whether they knew or not it isnt that difficult to figure out.

  16. ME says:

    Most of you say it will be good for you the “Americans” to get the jobs that the illegals will leave due to their status . But really who is going to work like the Hispanics in construction? Also you the “Americans” ask for a higher salary than any one else!!! And NO the economy is not the illegal immigrants fault have you thought about it ? Could it be because you the “Americans” have lots of DEBT ???? and just because you have a credit card you think you can buy everything?? DON’T THINK SO!!!! Just pay your bills on time and buy what you can really afford !!!

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s