City adopts controversial immigration screening - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

City reverses decision and adopts controversial immigration screening

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YAKIMA, Wash- Tuesday night's Yakima City Council meeting got heated as community and council members debated whether or not to adopt a controversial immigration screening. 

The E-verify debate was something like déjà vu. Many of the same people made the same arguments with the same passion.  The only real difference is this time other side won.

"We're very much in support of everyone using E-Verify", said Bob West, the leader of Grass Roots of Yakima Valley, and group that opposes illegal immigration.

A year ago Bob stood in City Council Chambers saying how upset he was that E-Verify didn't pass.

Nestor Hernandez, the president of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on the other hand had gotten exactly what he wanted, not the case tonight.

"We don't want you guys. That's the message.  I know it only affects contractors for the city but still that's the message people get", he said.

"It does send a message to the community that we only want legal people here", says West

Now all Yakima city employees and employees of companies that have contracts with the city will have to be e-verified... that is pass an online immigration screening that checks if someone is allowed to work in the United States.

"Whether it's intentional or not it does spread fear and distrust because people feel like they're being targeted", says Toby Guevin, Policy Manager for One America, and immigrant advocacy group.

The crucial vote came from council member Rick Ensey.  Last year he voted no because he said that version of the e-verify proposal could create too much bureaucracy and burden on very small businesses.  But this time he helped write a proposal that he felt addressed those issues. 

Dave Ettl, Bill Lover, and Micah Cawley voted yes as well...

"I commend them for doing the right thing because they're stewards of our money", said Kirk Groenig founder of "We the People", the local Tea Party group.

Council Members Maureen Adkison, Kathy Coffey, and Dave Edler voted against it.

Residents on both sides of the issue did have something in common tonight, they both said they'll remember this vote come election time.