San Bernardino County Supervisor Neil Derry’s proposal that would have required restaurants to inform customers if they perform immigration background checks on their employees didn’t make it through the Board of Supervisors Tuesday. San Bernardino is located 65 miles east of Los Angeles.
Derry 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. His proposal suggested the cards that restaurants are required to display include a green background for restaurants that screen their employees and a red background for those that don’t.
“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.
Derry also described the issue as a public health one.
“Citing statistics by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention that the tuberculosis rate among foreign-born residents is 11 times higher than among U.S.-born residents,” according to local San Bernardino news site PE.com.
Dr. Maxwell Ohikhuare, the San Bernardino county health officer, told the Press Enterprise there have been no tuberculosis cases linked to exposure at a restaurant or other eating establishments in the county in the past five years and that the disease cannot be spread through food handling.
“The San Bernardino restaurant industry would collapse without immigrants, who not only work in but also have opened and own San Bernardino restaurants,” Saru Jayaraman, co-founder of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, told Colorlines.com.
“We concur with the California Restaurant Association that San Bernardino County Supervisor Derry’s proposal to grade restaurants based on their use of E-verify is impractical and illegal, and would go further to say that the proposal implies, with blatant racial, unethical, and deliberately misleading comments, that immigrants threaten our food safety,” Jayaraman went on to say.
“If Supervisor Derry is genuinely interested in ensuring that restaurants comply with laws that protect our food safety, he should propose paid sick days, higher wages, and an end to wage theft, all of which would guarantee that all workers - regardless of their status - are able to take care of themselves and take a day off from cooking, preparing, and serving food when sick,” Jayaraman said.