Senate Republicans Introduce E-Verify Mandate Bill

By Roy Maurer May 6, 2015
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Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, introduced legislation that would permanently authorize and require all employers to use the E-Verify program to check that new hires are eligible to work in the United States.

The Accountability Through Electronic Verification Act of 2015 is the Senate’s counterpart to a similar bill the House Judiciary Committee passed in March.

The Senate bill would make E-Verify mandatory for all employers within one year, require use on current employees within three years and allow for use on prospective workers.

The E-Verify program is currently voluntary for most employers, except in some states and for federal contractors. The online system compares workers’ Form I-9 information to Social Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security data to make sure they have U.S. work authorization.

“E-Verify has already proven to be a successful tool for the companies that volunteer to use it. Enhancing it and making it a staple in every workplace will help in holding businesses accountable. As Congress considers the reauthorization of E-Verify this year, this bill should be a starting point for discussion,” Grassley said in a statement.

The E-Verify program is due to expire on Sept. 30, 2015.

Grassley’s proposal would:

*Permanently reauthorize the E-Verify program.

*Make the program mandatory for all employers within one year of the date of enactment, require federal contractors and agencies to use the program immediately, and direct “critical employers,” as identified by the Department of Homeland Security, to use the system within 30 days of designation.

*Increase penalties for employers who illegally hire undocumented workers.

*Reduce employers’ liability regarding wrongful termination of an individual, when employers use E-Verify.

*Allow employers to use E-Verify before a person is hired.

*Require employers to check the status of all current employees within three years.

*Require employers to reverify an employee’s immigration status if the employment authorization is due to expire.

The legislation has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Differences with the House Version

The House bill would phase in the requirement to use E-Verify over a two-year period instead of requiring compliance after one year. It also delays compliance for the agriculture industry, which would have three years to comply with the mandate.

The Senate version would allow employees who are not confirmed by the E-Verify system to contest the findings. The Senate bill also would require employers to use E-Verify to check the work authorization of existing employees within three years, which currently is prohibited. The House bill, on the other hand, would allow, but not require, employers to check existing employees’ status.

The House version would not allow employers to use E-Verify to check the employment authorization of prospective employees, while the Senate bill does.

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him @SHRMRoy

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