BOISE, Idaho — Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter has signed an executive order requiring state agencies to prove they are employing only legally documented workers if they want a share of the state’s $1.24 billion in federal economic stimulus money.
The order also requires contractors and subcontractors on state projects to prove their employees are legal.
“The bottom line is it’s protecting the taxpayers of Idaho because they are the ones who will have to pay this money back,” Otter spokesman Jon Hanian told the Coeur d’Alene Press. “Taxpayer money should go to the benefit of taxpayers.”
The order signed Friday applies to all state agencies, but not the Department of Education, Legislature or courts.
Most of the state’s federal stimulus money is going to education and health and welfare programs.
Sen. Mike Jorgenson, R-Hayden Lake, helped write the order.
“In this economy, with 53,000 people unemployed around the state, we have to eliminate the possibility of illegals getting jobs,” Jorgenson said. “This way we’ll spend the money the way it was meant to be spent.”
Dean Haagenson, CEO of Contractors Northwest, a contractor with offices in Coeur d’Alene and Boise, said he did not see anything wrong with the executive order, “but I don’t know exactly what it means.”
The difficulty in preventing illegal workers from being hired is spotting forged documents, he said.
“The real rub is are the documents real,” Haagenson said. “There’s a whole industry out there which forges them.”
The executive order directs the state Division of Human Resources to determine that all new employees with any state agency are legal workers. It also orders state agencies to make sure only individuals who are legally in the country receive government benefits.
In addition, it directs the Department of Correction, and the Commission for Pardons and Parole to make sure Idaho prisoners in this country illegally are deported after their sentences.
“The governor is taking the lead protecting Idaho citizens,” Jorgenson said. “It’s an outstanding move.”
Jorgenson said that during next year’s legislative session he plans to introduce legislation requiring employers to check the legal status of every worker using a free Internet service run by federal agencies.