As part of the phasing in process for Georgia’s ‘HB 87 – Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011,’ the second phase of the law requires private businesses in the state “with 100 or more employees but fewer than 500 employees” to use the E-Verify electronic employment eligibility verification system by July 1, 2012 to verify the legal work authorization status of newly hired employees to work in the United States. The full text of the law is available at: http://www1.legis.ga.gov/legis/2011_12/sum/hb87.htm. Continue reading
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) – the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – recently announced in a press release that a Houston, Texas-based tree trimming company has avoided criminal prosecution for employing illegal workers by agreeing to forfeit $2 million to the DHS related to revenue derived from the employment of illegal workers. The company has also agreed to adhere to revised immigration compliance procedures that include the use of E-Verify, a free electronic employment eligibility verification system run by the U.S. government. The press release from ICE is available at: http://www.ice.gov/news/releases/1205/120518houston.htm. Continue reading
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) – the government agency that oversees lawful immigration to the United States – recently published a notice in the Federal Register inviting public comment on proposed revisions to the ‘Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification’ that employers must complete for all newly hired employees to verify their identity and authorization to work in the United States. The notice is available at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-03-27/pdf/2012-7340.pdf and the proposed revisions are available at http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=USCIS-2006-0068-0013. Continue reading
All businesses in Alabama must enroll in the federal E-Verify employment eligibility verification system by April 1, 2012, and this is no April Fools’ Joke. According to ‘The Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act’ (H.B. 56), considered by many to be the toughest immigration enforcement measure in the country to date, every Alabama business – regardless of size – must enroll in E-Verify by the April 1 deadline to be in compliance with the law or else they could lose their licenses for failing to abide by the law. The full text of Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act is at: http://www.openbama.org/index.php/bill/fulltext/3154. Continue reading
The Fremont, Nebraska city council recently voted to implement the E-Verify portions of an immigration petition – ‘Ordinance No. 5165’ – that requires businesses getting a business license in the city or performing work in the city to use the federal E-Verify electronic employment eligibility verification system. The ordinance took effect March 5, 2012, and businesses have a grace period of until May 4, 2012 to comply. A copy of the Fremont, Nebraska Ordinance 5165 is available at: http://www.fremontne.gov/DocumentView.aspx?DID=770. Continue reading
While federal law mandates that federal contractors and subcontractors in all states must use the otherwise voluntary electronic employment eligibility verification system known as E-Verify, several U.S. states – including Alabama, Arizona, California, Georgia, and North Carolina – recently enacted laws mandating the use (or non-use) of E-verify, a free web-based system that allows employers to verify the legal work authorization status of newly hired employees, creating a complex and confusing web of laws and regulations. This is Trend Number 8 of the fifth annual ‘Employment Screening Resources (ESR) Top 10 Trends in Background Checks’ for 2012. To view the list of trends, visit http://www.esrcheck.com/ESR-Top-10-Trends-in-Background-Checks-for-2012.php. Continue reading
A new law in Alabama signed by Republican Governor Robert Bentley would require employers to use the now-voluntary federal employment eligibility verification system known as E-Verify to ensure that newly hired employees are legally eligible to work in the United States and would also authorize the revocation of business licenses for companies that employ illegal workers. All Alabama employers, both public and private, must begin using E-Verify when hiring new employees no later than April 2012. Continue reading
Joining the growing list of states mandating the use of the government’s E-Verify electronic employment eligibility verification system for private companies, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal has signed into law a stringent immigration bill – ‘HB 87 – The ‘Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011’ – that requires private employers in the state with more than 10 employees to check the immigration status of new hires using E-Verify, according to a press release from the Governor’s office. Continue reading
By Thomas Ahearn, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) News Editor
A member of the U.S. House of Representatives responding to an editorial in the Washington Post wrote that the E-Verify electronic employment eligibility verification system helps employers check the immigration status of workers and maintain a legal workforce, and also that E-Verify can only be used on new hires and not for screening job applicants.
The January 22 Washington Post editorial, ‘The limits of immigration enforcement,’ focused on one of the world’s largest food processing firms that recently received a federal seal of approval for its hiring practices from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after officials from the agency checked employment records for just about every one of the more than 100,000 workers employed by the company. Although roughly a quarter of a million companies have enrolled in E-Verify – which is described as “a federal program that screens potential new hires for employment eligibility” in the 1/22 editorial – most companies seem reluctant to have existing workforces checked since the U.S. labor force contains an estimated 6 to 7 million undocumented immigrants.
The following response appeared in the Washington Post on January 27, in part to support use of E-Verify but also to remind employers that E-Verify can only be used after a job applicant is hired and should not be used as a method of background screening:
Helping employers check workers’ immigration status
Contrary to the Jan. 22 editorial “The limits of immigration enforcement,” the E-Verify federal program is not used on potential hires, as the editorial stated. It can be used only for newly hired employees. In order to prevent discrimination, the Web-based E-Verify program, administered by the Department of Homeland Security, prohibits employers from using E-Verify to screen potential hires. Rather, E-Verify is a tool to confirm that the information given on an I-9 form, which is required for every new employee, is correct.
As a former small-business owner in the restaurant industry, I found it frustrating that employers were expected to hire legal workers but were given no tools to do so. Since employers cannot be expected to be document experts, when I became a member of Congress I created E-Verify as a way to provide employers a simple, free and easy way to check the information provided on the I-9. Fifteen years later, E-Verify has exceeded expectations through the use of biometric data for non-citizens, is 99.6 percent accurate and continues to improve, expand and evolve.
Ken Calvert, Washington
The writer, a California Republican, is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Recently, a story in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) ‘Crackdown on Illegal Workers Grow’ told how ICE had announced that it was cracking down on larger companies that may employ undocumented workers. ICE conducted audits of more than 2,740 companies in the fiscal year 2010, nearly twice as many as the previous fiscal year, and levied a record $7 million in civil fines on businesses employing illegal workers, according to the WSJ.
Because of this, U.S. businesses are getting their employment records, particularly the Employment Eligibility Verification Form (“I-9 form”), in order. Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – a background check firm accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) – is also a Designated E-Verify Employer Agent that can help employers virtually eliminate I-9 form errors, improve the accuracy of their reporting, protect jobs for authorized workers, and maintain a legal workforce.
For more information on E-Verify Service from Employment Screening Resources (ESR), visit http://www.esrcheck.com/formi9.php.
Founded in 1996 in the San Francisco area, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) wrote the book on background checks with ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’ by ESR founder and President Lester Rosen and is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) . To learn more about Employment Screening Resources, visit http://www.ESRcheck.com or contact Jared Callahan, ESR Director of Client Relations, at 415.898.0044 or jcallahan@ESRcheck.com.
Trend No. 9: E-Verify and I-9 Audits Help Government Find Employers with Illegal Workers
An October 2010 press release from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced record-breaking immigration enforcement statistics achieved under the Obama administration, which included issuing more financial sanctions on employers who hired unauthorized workers than during the entire previous Bush administration. Since January 2009, when President Barack Obama took office, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) – the principal investigative arm of DHS – has audited more than 3,200 employers suspected of hiring workers not legally eligible to work in the U.S., debarred 225 companies and individuals, and imposed approximately $50 million in financial sanctions, according to the DHS.
A summary of fines and penalties from ICE reveals that this surge in enforcement of a legal U.S. workforce included a 500 percent increase in penalties from worksite enforcement actions (over $5 million), a nearly two-fold increase in I-9 audits (2,200), a record-breaking 180 criminal prosecutions of employers, and the debarring of more than 97 businesses, compared to 30 last fiscal year, with average fines exceeding $110,000.
Due in large part to increased scrutiny on employers from ICE through I-9 audits – where employee information on Employment Eligibility Verification Forms (“I-9 forms”) is checked for accuracy by Government agents – penalties from worksite enforcement inspections have increased recently. The following statistics from ICE compares Fiscal Year 2010 (October 1, 2009 to September 30, 2010) with Fiscal Year 2009 (October 1, 2008 to September 30, 2009):
- ICE penalties from worksite enforcement inspections increased to $5,300,000 in FY 2010, up from $1,033,291 in FY 2009.
- ICE criminally charged a record-breaking 180 owners, employers, managers and/or supervisors in FY 2010, up from 135 in FY 2008 and 114 in FY 2009.
- ICE conducted more than 2,200 I-9 audits in FY 2010, up from more than 1,400 in FY 2009.
- ICE debarred 97 business and 49 individuals in FY 2010, up from 30 and 53, respectively, in FY 2009.
These record breaking statistics show that ICE is focusing more on targeting the employers that hire illegal workers through the use of I-9 audits and investigations of their hiring practices. Now more than ever, U.S. employers must regularly review their I-9 compliance practices.
One of the trends that emerged in 2010 and should continue in 2011 is that employers will take steps to ensure they hire a legal workforce by using E-Verify, a free, web-based electronic employment eligibility verification system operated by the U.S. government that enables employers to electronically verify the employment eligibility of their employees by comparing data from the Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 against records in DHS and Social Security Administration (SSA) databases. E-Verify is currently being used by more than 230,000 employers at more than 800,000 worksites, according to recent figures from DHS.
Currently, federal contractors and subcontractors in all states must use E-Verify. Many U.S. states have additional state or local E-Verify mandates for either all employers, state agencies, city employees, or have E-Verify legislation pending. A listing of E-Verify requirements can be found on the recently updated (November 22, 2010) online E-Verify State Legislation Map from Tracker Corp available at http://www.esrcheck.com/State-E-Verify-map.php.
Employers may choose to have a Designated E-Verify Employer Agent assist them in maintaining compliance with the E-Verify electronic employment eligibility verification process. Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – a Designated E-Verify Employer Agent – can help employers virtually eliminate I-9 form errors, improve the accuracy of their reporting, protect jobs for authorized workers, and help maintain a legal workforce. To learn more about E-Verify, visit http://www.esrcheck.com/formi9.php.
Employment Screening Resources (ESR) is releasing the ESR Fourth Annual ‘Top Ten Trends in Pre-Employment Background Screening’ for 2011 throughout December. This is the Ninth of the Top Ten Trends ESR will be tracking in 2011. To see an updated list of ESR’s ‘Top Ten Trends in Pre-Employment Background Screening’ for 2011, visit: http://www.esrcheck.com/Top-Ten-Trends-In-Background-Screening-2011.php.
Founded in 1996 in the San Francisco Bay area, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) is the company that wrote the book on background checks with ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’ by ESR founder and President Lester Rosen. Employment Screening Resources is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) Background Screening Credentialing Council (BSCC) for proving compliance with the Background Screening Agency Accreditation Program (BSAAP). ESR was also the third background screening company to be ‘Safe Harbor’ certified. For more information, visit http://www.ESRcheck.com or contact Jared Callahan, ESR Director of Client Relations and Business Development, at 415.898.0044 or jcallahan@ESRcheck.com.