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When it comes to immigration issues, Laguna Niguel Councilman Paul Glaab and Minuteman Project founder Jim Gilchrist are expected to see eye-to-eye. But E-verify – a controversial federal program that checks for undocumented workers – has the two conservatives at each other’s throats.
Glaab put in the only no vote on a recent motion before the city council to test run the program on city employees. Glaab thinks the web-based program – which allows employers to run social security numbers through a federal database to see if they’re used fraudulently – is too flawed to support. A recent study showed the error rate range to be as high as 63 percent.
“My objection is not to you (Ming) or your motion, my objection is to the federal government,” Glaab said.
When Gilchrist heard about Glaab’s dissenting vote, he said it indicated that Glaab took campaign contributions from “21st century slave traders” — a reference to employers who hire undocumented workers. He added that Glaab is “probably getting his hands greased.”
Glaab was so enraged by Gilchrist’s remarks that he screamed over the phone to make his point.
“I’ve been a lifelong Republican. I’m a conservative,” Glaab said.
A look at Glaab’s campaign documents shows he did receive a few small contributions from housing and shopping center developers, but most of his campaign money came through loans he made to himself.
“These are legitimate companies,” Glaab said. “I do not take contributions from companies that support illegal immigration.”
Glaab contended that Gilchrist needed to be reminded that the two of them hold the same position on illegal immigration. “That I am against the goals and objectives of E-verify is flat wrong,” Glaab said.
Under the motion passed, Laguna Niguel city staff has 180 days to implement an undocumented worker screening program, using new city employees as guinea pigs – or come up with an explanation for why they couldn’t.
Ming thought E-verify was a step in the right direction.
“I think we should attempt to comply with the law,” Ming said. “We all know what the law is.”
Gilchrist commended Laguna Niguel’s effort to get the ball moving on enforcing illegal immigration laws. He dismissed Glaab’s contention that e-verify had too many problems to implement.
“I would go for something that might be flawed, temporarily, so that it can be de-flawed,” Gilchrist said.
City Attorney Terry E. Dixon recommended the city keep its big city hall project far away from E-verify. He feared that bidders would get cold feet.
“I don’t want to do anything at this point after going through the most rigorous pre-qualification process we have ever gone through,” Dixon said.
All city council members agreed that Laguna Niguel’s city hall project – the city’s largest construction effort in decades – should be exempt from the program.
“You can’t just throw paint at the wall and see if it sticks,” Gilchrist said. “So I understand if they want to pursue e-verify in a guarded fashion.”
— ADAM ELMAHREK
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