In Focus: Is Mandatory E-Verify on the Horizon?

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​President Donald Trump has proposed budget dollars to help roll out a mandatory E-Verify program. For that to happen though, Congress must pass legislation on the issue.

E-Verify is a web-based system that businesses can use to determine the employment eligibility of workers in the country. The system began in 1996 and has been extended several times. It is mostly a voluntary program, but it's mandatory for many federal contractors and for employers in some states. 

Republican Congress members have introduced several bills this year that would permanently authorize the system and would require all employers to use it. But some immigration experts say that the system needs to be improved.

[SHRM members-only toolkit: Complying with E-Verify Requirements]

House Judiciary Committee Approves Permanent E-Verify

The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee has approved H.R. 2407, which would enact the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Reauthorization Act. As part of this proposed legislation, the voluntary E-Verify program would be made permanent. USCIS "is tasked with processing the immigration benefits applications for those seeking to come to the U.S. legally and become naturalized citizens," said the bill's author, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-VA, in a statement. "The USCIS Reauthorization Act reauthorizes this critical agency and improves its mission."

(Homeland Security Today)

Senate Bill Would Make E-Verify Mandatory

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, introduced a bill earlier this year that would require all employers to use E-Verify within one year of enactment. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) would support an electronic verification system if it preempts the patchwork of state laws on verifying work eligibility with a reliable, accurate and easily accessible federal system. "SHRM believes that a legal workforce must be a key element of any effective immigration policy, including a reliable, national and entirely electronic employment-eligibility verification system that provides employers with certainty that new employees are authorized to work in the U.S.," said Chatrane Birbal, SHRM's senior government relations advisor.

(SHRM Online)

Fixes Needed to Current System

Although immigration experts think it's likely that mandatory E-Verify is coming, there are bugs in the system that need to be worked out. For example, employers that use the current E-Verify system must also complete a paper I-9 form to verify employment eligibility. SHRM says the paper I-9 form should be eliminated so that employers don't have to complete an additional administrative step for each new hire. SHRM also believes that E-Verify should use state-of-the-art technology that can accurately authenticate a worker's identity and protect against identity theft.

(SHRM Online)

Trump Requests E-Verify Funding

Mandatory E-Verify is part of Trump's proposed budget for fiscal year 2018, which requests funds to continue improving the system and to implement mandatory use for all employers by 2018. The budget also request funds for several other immigration-related activities, such as increased enforcement efforts and building a border wall. Attorneys say that the budget shows Trump's commitment to immigration enforcement and that employers should be prepared for worksite investigations, such as I-9 audits and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids.

(Lexology)

Does E-Verify Work?

States that require employers to use E-Verify have seen a drop in their undocumented population, according to researchers with the Dallas Federal Reserve. However, the research shows that compliance with the mandate varies from state to state and can be somewhat low. In Arizona and Alabama about 40 percent of employers comply, and in Utah and North Carolina less than 15 percent use the system. Thus, compliance rates may also be an issue if a nationwide system is rolled out.  (Houston Chronicle

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