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Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

Legislation introduced in Congress in 2017 – “Legal Workforce Act” (H.R. 3711) – hopes to make the E-Verify electronic employment eligibility verification system a “mandatory and permanent” requirement for U.S. employers to ensure the workers they hire are legally eligible to work in the United States. This move toward the mandatory use of E-Verify is trend number 10 of the “ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends” for 2018 selected by global background check firm Employment Screening Resources (ESR).

Introduced by U.S. Congressman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), “The Legal Workforce Act” would require all U.S. employers to use E-Verify, which confirms 99.8 percent of work-eligible employees and is currently used by more than 700,000 American employers. A 2016 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that 83 percent of U.S. employers support a mandatory electronic verification system.  A summary of the key components of the Act revels the legislation will also:

  • Repeal the current paper-based I-9 system and replace it with a completely electronic work eligibility check.
  • Phase-in mandatory E-Verify participation for new hires gradually in six-month increments beginning on the date of enactment.
  • Allow employers to use E-Verify to check the work eligibility of their current employees in a nondiscriminatory manner.
  • Preempt duplicative state laws mandating E-Verify use but give states prominent roles in enforcing the law.
  • Allow individuals to lock their Social Security number (SSN) so it cannot be used by another person to get a job.
  • Raise penalties on employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants in violation of the requirements of the bill.

The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986 prohibits U.S. employers from hiring people for employment in without verifying their identity and employment authorization on a Form I-9. Operated by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), E-Verify checks the social security numbers of employees on Form I-9s against records from the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to ensure that they are legally eligible to work in the United States.

Mandatory nationwide use of E-Verify was included in the White House Fiscal Year 2018 Budget that called for “expanding worksite enforcement strategies by mandating nationwide use of the E-Verify system” to reduce illegal employment. The DHS FY 2018 Budget in Brief requested $131.5 million for E-Verify operations and upgrades for the USCIS, including a $15.2 million to expand the E-Verify program with the purpose of supporting “mandatory use of E-Verify nationwide within three years.”

E-Verify is voluntary except for employers with federal contracts or subcontracts containing the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) E-Verify clause requiring the use of E-Verify for a legal workforce. States that already have laws regarding E-Verify use 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.

The mandatory use of E-Verify is part of a larger push by the Administration of President Donald Trump to enforce immigration laws. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) released immigration enforcement statistics for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 at “ICE Impact in FY 2017” that show ICE totaled 143,473 administrative arrests in FY 2017, with 110,568 of those arrests occurring after start of President Trump’s Administration on January 20, 2017, a 42 percent increase over the same time period in FY 2016.

In a speech to the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. in October of 2017, Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan – the Trump Administration’s top immigration enforcement official – said he ordered the time spent on work site enforcement by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the  investigative unit of ICE, to increase “by four to five times” and added that ICE “already increased the number of inspections in work site operations” and would “significantly increase this next fiscal year.”

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – a leading global background check firm headquartered in the San Francisco, California area – will release the 11th annual “ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends” of 2018 via the ESR News Blog during December of 2017. The complete list of emerging and influential trends in the background screening industry for the coming year as chosen by ESR will be available in January of 2018 on the ESR website at

ESR Webinar on Top Ten Background Check Trends for 2018

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) founder and CEO Attorney Lester Rosen will host a live webinar entitled “ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends for 2018” that will take place on Wednesday, January 17, 2018, from 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM Noon Pacific Time. To register for the complimentary webinar from ESR, which will acquaint employers and Human Resources (HR) professionals with emerging and influential trends in the background screening industry, please visit

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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