On Jan. 20, 2017, a U.S. senator introduced legislation that would make E-Verify mandatory for employers nationwide.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, is behind a new congressional effort to make the federal background verification system a requirement for hiring businesses, according to a press release. Grassley's Accountability Through Electronic Verification Act was a reintroduction of his E-Verify bill. Right now states are given the power to make the system mandatory, and many of those that do have E-Verify regulations don't cover all employers.
A federal E-Verify requirement?
E-Verify is a federal background verification program that allows employers to use new hires' Social Security numbers and other information to cross-check their identities and employment eligibility. Businesses are allowed to use the program at no cost. Currently, around 700,000 employers use E-Verify.
"E-Verify is seen by many conservatives as part of the immigration solution."
There are 20 states that require some or all companies to use the employee verification system, according to a press release from a Rhode Island state representative who hopes to make E-Verify mandatory in the Ocean State. The federal government regularly rolls out updates to the program to assist both businesses and their staff. For example, myE-Verify was introduced to give employees a portal to check their own employment eligibility.
"Businesses across the country have opted to use the E-Verify system to help comply with our immigration laws," Grassley said in the press release. "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."
Grassley's bill contains a number of E-Verify provisions
The Republican party currently has control of both the legislative and executive branches of the federal government. The GOP is now capable of enacting immigration control legislation for the first time since before the former President Barack Obama was elected. E-Verify is seen by many conservatives as part of the immigration solution. Grassley's legislation includes a number of provisions aimed at using E-Verify to better control immigration in the U.S.:
- Permanently reauthorizes the E-Verify program.
- Requires all employers to use E-Verify within a year of enactment.
- Mandates all federal contractors to use E-Verify immediately.
- Reduces liability for employers that do use the program.
- Increases penalties for companies that employ undocumented immigrants.
- Allows businesses to use E-Verify before someone is hired if he or she consents.
- Requires employers to terminate individuals who are found to be ineligible for employment, through E-Verify.
- Mandates all employers to reverify employees' employment authorization every three years.
- Establishes a network for rural areas without strong internet connectivity to ensure small businesses in these areas can participate in the E-Verify program.
- Requires employers to reverify employees whose authorization is set to expire.
- Requires the Social Security Administration to develop algorithms to help detect multiple uses of single Social Security numbers.
Employers should be prepared to implement E-Verify in their own hiring processes if Grassley's legislation gets off the ground. The chances have likely improved dramatically since November, when the GOP took control of the federal government with sweeping electoral victories. Misuse of the federal employment verification tool can result in significant fines. Training on E-Verify, as well as the Form I-9, can help employers avoid those penalties.