Gov. Jay Nixon, of Missouri, recently vetoed a state law that some say would have made it easier for people not authorized to work in the U.S. to attain employment.
Currently any Missouri business with a state contract, tax breaks or grants is required to enroll in E-Verify and open cases for new hires. Several other states have similar legislation, including Texas, though the Lone Star State has long been working through the details of its own E-Verify requirements. House Bill 1870 would have allowed businesses to opt out of the requirement if enrolling in E-Verify was deemed too costly or difficult, CBS explained.
In 2008, the Missouri General Assembly passed HB 1549. The legislation made it illegal for employers to knowingly hire individuals not authorized to work in the U.S. The bill also required certain employers - those that meet the aforementioned qualifications - to enroll in and use E-Verify.
"At a time when many believe that not enough is being done to address illegal immigration, the General Assembly is attempting to take Missouri backwards by undoing an important and widely used method of verifying a worker's legal status," Nixon said in a statement. "Government contracts and taxpayer subsidies must not be awarded to businesses that employ illegal workers, and the General Assembly's effort to weaken these safeguards will not receive my approval."
Lawmakers argue for and against HB 1870
The governor also argued that enrolling in E-Verify is not challenging or expensive. In fact, the federal background verification system is free to use. Any employer can easily download the program and enroll in it. Additionally, U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement offers a series of webinars that include instructions for employers on E-Verify enrollment, use and requirements. While E-Verify could become costly or challenging if users are noncompliant, sanctioned use of the background verification is quite simple and free of charge.
"E-Verify isn't meant to be the sole verification tool in an employer's arsenal."
Supporters of the bill say it is a matter of small business independence. It is referred to as the Big Government Get Off My Back Act. The legislation would reduce a number of government fees and other regulatory hindrances, and in some cases, the E-Verify requirement. Rep. Denny Hoskins, (R-Warrensburg), told CBS that Nixon's decision to veto HB 1870 shows a "lack of commitment to small businesses." He added that employers are already required to fill out a number of tax documents for new hires.
E-Verify is a supplemental tool
E-Verify isn't meant to be the sole verification tool in an employer's arsenal, though. Instead, it is designed to supplement other work authorization verification processes, such as the Form I-9. Tax documents may not always be enough to confirm employment eligibility. The Form I-9 may not always go the distance in proving work authorization either, which is why E-Verify has emerged as an important tool for many employers, and a required one in several states.
Despite Nixon's decision to veto HB 1870, the bill is not dead yet. If two-thirds of the state legislature choose to override the governor's veto, then the bill will pass into law despite his objections.