A local group representing unemployed military veterans said Monday it's angry that illegal immigrants were working to build the new VA Hospital.
There's a federal database that helps contractors screen illegals out of their worker pool, but there may be a very big flaw.
When federal agents caught nine illegal immigrants, including six hiding in the ceiling at the new VA Hospital, some legal residents who are out of work wanted to know how they ever made it onto the construction site at all.
"It's ridiculous! If this is a federal place, they're supposed to be sure who is working," laid-off worker Victor Zapata said.
A group of unemployed veterans said they are planning their own news conference to talk about substandard wages at the new VA site.
The federal E-verify System, designed to help contractors screen out illegal workers, is far from fool-proof. A recent independent study determined E-verify gets it right 96 percent of the time. However, out of the illegal workers screened, 54 percent were incorrectly authorized to work.
The study found many illegal workers are still getting confirmed through E-verify, because they're not using fake IDs, but real ones that belong to someone else.
"The system has broken down," said Senator Bill Nelson.
Nelson said he believes E-verify failed in this case, but a spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security in Orlando insists E-verify is a "smart and effective tool and participating employers have a significantly better track record than those who don't use 'E-verify.'"
Brasfield & Gorrie is one of the main contractors at the VA site accused of helping the illegal workers hide. The company said it uses E-verify, which is still considered the highest standard for checking an employee's status.
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