Murrieta moves to require businesses to use E-Verify

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Murrieta is the latest Inland city to consider an ordinance that aims to crack down on employers who hire illegal immigrants. The city is crafting a new policy that would require businesses to screen employees' citizenship status.

It's modeled after ordinances in Temecula, Menifee and Lake Elsinore that were overwhelmingly approved in recent weeks. If Murrieta does the same, it would require businesses there to screen the immigration status of all prospective hires through the federal E-Verify system.

Employers who fail to use the program — or who hire undocumented workers anyway — could have their business licenses revoked.

Murrieta's city attorney advised the council to hold off on passing an E-Verify ordinance because it could undermine federal rules. Federal law says E-Verify is voluntary for private businesses. There's no penalty for employers who don't use the program.

The Murrieta City Council directed the city attorney to draft an E-Verify ordinance anyway. The council will reopen debate on the issue in October — the same month the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a challenge to Arizona's E-Verify law.