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Immigration status rule for San Bernardino County eateries fails

A supervisor wanted to require restaurants to publicly indicate whether they had ensured that their employees were in the country legally. No one else on the board votes for the measure.

April 25, 2012|By Rick Rojas and Thomas Curwen, Los Angeles Times

One San Bernardino County supervisor's plan to require restaurants to inform customers whether the establishment does immigration background checks on its employees was overwhelmingly rebuffed Tuesday by fellow supervisors.

Supervisor Neil Derry, the measure's sponsor, was the only one to vote for the plan, which would have color-coded the A, B and C grade cards that restaurants receive during annual health inspections. Restaurants are required to display the cards.

Three supervisors voted against the measure and one abstained, officials said.

"I am disappointed that my colleagues ignored the health of the public and endorsed the stealing of American jobs by illegal workers during this devastating recession," Derry said in a statement after the vote. He added that his constituents "consistently query me on the issue of illegal immigration, and I will continue to echo their concerns in county government."

Under the proposal, a green card would indicate that the restaurant used the federal database E-Verify to check whether its employees were eligible to work in the Unites States. A red card would indicate that the restaurant did not use it.

Before the vote, Derry explained the proposal as an effort to protect public health.

"Public health is jeopardized when we allow restaurants to employ illegal aliens that have not been subjected to the same battery of tests and vaccination requirements we demand of legal immigrants and visitors," Derry said. "Customers literally place their health in the hands of anonymous individuals and are vulnerable to numerous communicable diseases more commonly found in people born outside this country."

Derry said the measure was a way to circumvent the "out of touch" Legislature that passed a law, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, that prohibits the state, cities and counties from mandating that private employers use E-Verify.

Last fall, Derry proposed an ordinance that would have required anyone seeking a food service industry job to be screened for his or her immigration status before a food-handler card could be obtained. He withdrew the proposal over concerns about the legality of instituting such a requirement.

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