Linn County clears up background check process question
By Alex Paul, Albany Democrat-Herald democratherald.com | Posted: Thursday, December 15, 2011 6:00 am |
Linn County does a background check on all job applicants through the Social Security Administration database, but has not used the Department of Homeland Security’s E-Verify database, according to county administrator Ralph Wyatt.
But Wyatt may soon have the county add E-Verify check to its hiring protocol.
Some confusion evolved this week after David Cross of Salem asked in a letter to the editor why E-Verify wasn’t being used.
Commissioner Will Tucker asked staff if all applications were checked to ensure job applicants are legal U.S. residents and he was told they are. He believed it was through the E-Verify system and relayed that information to Cross by e-mail.
“We actually go through the Social Security Administration’s database,” Wyatt said. “We check to make sure all employees have a valid Social Security number.”
Wyatt said the system has not kicked back any applicant for improper Social Security numbers, but has caught problems with spelling or transposed numbers entered into the system.
One reason the county has not used E-Verify is there were some problems with the system when it was first rolled out, Wyatt said.
Wyatt said it does not cost the county anything to belong to either system and Linn County will likely add E-Verify research to its hiring process. In addition to checking the Social Security Administration database, E-Verify also searches more than 80 million Department of Homeland Security records.
“We want to hire only legal residents of the United States, Oregon and Linn County,” Wyatt said. “That’s exactly what’s been happening. The commissioners have a long history of supporting local jobs for legal residents. It’s not what you say, it’s what you do.”
Wyatt said the county has 777 total employees including those who are on-call and part-time. The number of full-time equivalents is 650.
Oregon counties using E-Verify include Clatsop, Deschutes, Harney, Jefferson, Lake, Lane, Lincoln, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Tillamook and Washington.
E-Verify is available to any public or private employer.
The system compares an employee’s Form I-9 information with more than 455 million records in the Social Security Administration database and more than 80 million records in Department of Homeland Security’s immigration databases.
According to the Homeland Security’s website, the system is growing by more than 1,400 users per week.