Two New Mandatory E-Verify Bills Introduced in Congress: H.R. 478 and S. 202

by Ann Cun

Forget that Pantone announced emerald as the “it” color for 2013!  Capitol Hill is more concerned about its new hot topic of this year: E-Verify – mandatory E-Verify to be more specific! In the past week, two bills were introduced in Congress: H.R. 478 and S. 202, both addressing a mandatory E-Verify law.

House Representative Bill 478 was sponsored by Congressman Phil Gingrey (R-GA) and introduced on February 4, 2013 to amend the Illegal Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996; “to make the E-Verify Program permanent and mandatory, and to provide for certain changes to procedures for participants in the Program.”  The text of the bill is not currently available as of the date of publication.

Senate Bill 202 was sponsored by Senator Charles E. Grassley (R-IA) (and 10 others) on January 31, 2013.  The bill aims to “expand the use of E-Verify, to hold employers accountable, and for other purposes.”  The text for this bill is also not currently available for viewing as of today.  However, Senator Grassley’s made these remarks while introducing the bill to the Committee on the Judiciary (excerpted here):

Mr. President, today, along with several colleagues, I am introducing legislation to permanently authorize and expand the E-Verify program. My bill, the Accountability Through Electronic Verification Act, will be a tool for employers who want a legal workforce and it will enhance our ability to hold employers accountable for their hiring practices.

Currently, the E-Verify program is voluntary and free for all employers to use. It is a proven tool in combating illegal immigration. Today, I am proposing that the program be a staple in every workplace so that American workers are on a level playing field with cheaper foreign labor.

My legislation would increase penalties on employers who continue to hire people unauthorized to work in the country. Employers would be required to check the status of current employees within 3 years, and would allow employers to run a check prior to offering a job, saving that employer valuable time and resources. Employers will also be required to re-check those workers whose authorization is about to expire, such as those who come to the United States on temporary visas.  [Emphasis added.]

While everyone may not agree with every aspect of this bill, it serves as a starting point for a much-needed conversation about worksite enforcement. The President and many members in Congress are going to make it a priority to pass an immigration reform bill this year. We need to act. We need change. We need a better system in place for future generations.

Part of the discussion on immigration will be on a reliable employment verification program. People back home want employers to be held accountable. And, employers want to be responsible. People want to see our government do more to reduce the magnet for people to cross our borders illegally. We must take this opportunity to make sure that employers are abiding by, and able to abide by, the rules. Let us give them the tools they need to do that. I hope more colleagues will join me in my effort to achieve accountability through electronic verification and by making E-Verify a permanent program.

Although the likelihood of either bill being passed is low, given the hoops and hurdles a bill must overcome in order to morph into law, the ideas introduced in Senator Grassley’s Senate Bill 202 may still be adopted in any comprehensive immigration reform package.

What do our readers have to say about Senator Grassley’s remarks?

  • If your organization is already enrolled in E-Verify, would you want the added capability to screen applicants’ work authorization prior to offering them a job?
  • Would you want to be able to E-Verify existing employees?
  • For large employers (10,000+ employees), what kind of challenges would you encounter if your organization was required to E-Verify its entire workforce?
    • Would three years be enough time?  If not, how much time would be needed?
    • What additional costs would your organization incur if having to E-Verify the entire workforce?

For now, the bills have been referred to committees for review (and may well die there).  In the meantime, don’t be surprised if we encounter more bills that include “Mandatory E-Verify” provisions.  We’ll follow up with more posts on legislative developments.  Stay informed by subscribing to this blog, The Original I-9 and E-Verify Blog.

Originally published by LawLogix Group Inc Reprinted by permission.

About The Author

Ann Cun is a U.S. based immigration attorney who has helped companies in the technology, science, business, sports, entertainment and arts fields secure complex work visas for their employees. With more than a decade of experience as a paralegal and attorney, Ms. Cun possesses a stellar record of success. Her legal expertise also includes conducting internal I-9 audits for companies and developing I-9 compliant strategies and solutions. She is a graduate of UCLA and UC Hastings School of Law and has been invited to speak by the Bar Association of San Francisco and the American Immigration Lawyers Association on U.S. immigration related topics, as well as other international conferences. Ms. Cun is a contributing author and currently serves as Counsel and Principal Editor for LawLogix Group.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) alone and should not be imputed to ILW.COM.