Legislation Would Make E-Verify Mandatory for All Employers


Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley has reintroduced legislation – the “Accountability Through Electronic Verification Act” – that would permanently authorize and require employers to use the E-Verify program, an Internet-based system that helps employers determine the eligibility of employees to work in the United States, according to a news release on Senator Grassley’s website.

“E-Verify is a proven tool for employers, including myself, that helps reduce incentives for illegal immigration and safeguards job opportunities for Americans and other legal workers. Expanding the system to every workplace will improve accountability for all businesses and take an important step toward putting American workers first,” Senator Grassley (R-IA) stated in the news release.

E-Verify was established in 1996 as a pilot program with employers in five states allowed to participate.  The pilot program was reauthorized in 2001, expanded to employers in every state in 2003 on a voluntary basis under Grassley-authored legislation, and reauthorized several times since 2008.  E-Verify is set to expire on April 28, 2017. The “Accountability Through Electronic Verification Act”:

  • Permanently reauthorizes the E-Verify program that was created in 1996.
  • Makes the program mandatory for all employers within one year of date of enactment, requires federal contractors and agencies to use the program immediately, and directs “critical employers,” as identified by the Secretary of Homeland Security, to use the system within 30 days of designation.
  • Increases penalties for employers who illegally hire undocumented workers.
  • Reduces the liability that employers face if they participate in E-Verify when it involves the wrongful termination of an individual.
  • Allows employers to use E-Verify before a person is hired if consent is provided by the employee.
  • Requires employers to check the status of all current employees within 3 years.
  • Requires employers to terminate the employment of those found unauthorized to work due to a check through E-Verify.
  • Helps ensure that the Social Security Administration catches multiple uses of Social Security numbers by requiring them to develop algorithms to detect anomalies.
  • Establishes a demonstration project in a rural area or area without internet capabilities to assist small businesses in complying with the participation requirement.
  • Amends the criminal code to make clear that defendants who possess or otherwise use identity information not their own without lawful authority and in the commission of another felony is still punishable for aggravated identity fraud, regardless of the defendant’s “knowledge” of the victim.
  • Requires employers to re-verify an employee’s immigration status if the employment authorization is due to expire.

Currently, employers voluntarily submit information on an employee’s Form I-9 to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through the E-Verify system, which works in partnership with the Social Security Administration (SSA) to determine worker eligibility.  There is no cost for employers to use E-Verify and nearly 700,000 businesses use the program. To learn more, visit www.uscis.gov/e-verify.

Cosponsors of legislation to make E-Verify mandatory include Senators John Boozman (R-AR), Bob Corker (R-TN), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Mike Lee (R-UT), Richard Shelby (R-AL), John Thune (R-SD) Roger Wicker (R-MS), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) The complete text of the bill is available on Senator Grassley’s website here: “Accountability Through Electronic Verification Act.”

Many states already have laws requiring – and in some cases prohibiting – the use of E-Verify by employers. These states include Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Virginia.

ESR Is A Designated E-Verify Employer Agent

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) is a global background check firm that is accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) and undergoes yearly SOC 2® audits for data security. ESR is also a Designated E-Verify Employer Agent that helps employers with Form I-9 and E-Verify compliance. For more information about ESR, please visit www.esrcheck.com.

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.

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