02 Aug Grassley E-Verify Bill Promotes Accountability for Employers
WASHINGTON – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley reintroduced legislation to aid businesses in complying with immigration laws by certifying the legal status of their workforce. The Accountability Through Electronic Verification Act would permanently authorize and require employers to use the E-Verify program, an Internet-based system that assists employers in determining the eligibility of employees to work in the United States.
“Businesses across the country have opted to use the E-Verify system to help comply with our immigration laws. 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 said.
Currently, employers voluntarily submit information reported on an employee’s Form I-9 to the Department of Homeland Security through the E-Verify system, which works in partnership with the Social Security Administration to determine worker eligibility. There is no cost for employers to use E-Verify. Nearly 700,000 businesses use the program today.
E-Verify was established in 1996 as a pilot program with employers in five states allowed to participate. The pilot program was reauthorized in 2001, expanded to employers in every state in 2003 under Grassley-authored legislation, and reauthorized several times since 2008. It is set to expire on April 28, 2017.
The Accountability Through Electronic Verification Act does the following:
- Permanently reauthorizes the E-Verify program that was created in 1996.
- Makes the program mandatory for all employers within one year of date of enactment, requires federal contractors and agencies to use the program immediately, and directs “critical employers,” as identified by the Secretary of Homeland Security, to use the system within 30 days of designation.
- Increases penalties for employers who illegally hire undocumented workers.
- Reduces the liability that employers face if they participate in E-Verify when it involves the wrongful termination of an individual.
- Allows employers to use E-Verify before a person is hired if consent is provided by the employee.
- Requires employers to check the status of all current employees within 3 years.
- Requires employers to terminate the employment of those found unauthorized to work due to a check through E-Verify.
- Helps ensure that the Social Security Administration catches multiple uses of Social Security numbers by requiring them to develop algorithms to detect anomalies.
- Establishes a demonstration project in a rural area or area without internet capabilities to assist small businesses in complying with the participation requirement.
- Amends the criminal code to make clear that defendants who possess or otherwise use identity information not their own without lawful authority and in the commission of another felony is still punishable for aggravated identity fraud, regardless of the defendant’s “knowledge” of the victim.
- Requires employers to re-verify an employee’s immigration status if the employment authorization is due to expire.
Cosponsors of Grassley’s bill include senators John Boozman (R-Ark.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), John Thune (R-S.D.) Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.) .