As new legislation rolls out from President Donald Trump’s administration, HR professionals are tasked with the responsibility of remaining compliant, adjusting recruitment strategies, and much more. One topic of discussion has been the use of E-Verify to manage immigration issues such as identifying and restricting undocumented workers.
For those unfamiliar, E-Verify is “an Internet-based system that compares information from your Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, to Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Social Security Administration (SSA), and Department of State (DOS) records to confirm that you are authorized to work in the United States.” You can find more detailed information on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website.
According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the GOP has put legislation back on the table that would:
- Permanently reauthorize the E-Verify program.
- Make the program mandatory for all employers within one year of enactment, requiring federal contractors and agencies to use the program immediately and directing “critical employers,” as identified by DHS, to use the system within 30 days.
- Increase penalties for employers that illegally hire undocumented workers.
- Reduce the liability that employers face if they wrongfully terminate a worker due to inaccurate information provided by E-Verify.
- Allow employers to use E-Verify before a person is hired, if consent is provided by the candidate.
- Require employers to check the status of all employees not previously verified through E-Verify within three years of enactment.
- Require employers to terminate employees found to be unauthorized to work due to a check through E-Verify.
- Require employers to reverify an employee’s immigration status if the employment authorization is due to expire.
Although this system seems like an effective way to confirm legal employment, there are some logistical hinges that may make it ineffective. For instance, the technology does not use real-time data. This means that people with legitimate citizenship may be denied employment based on the speed in which systems update information. Additionally, E-Verify relies on employers to submit honest information, which, unfortunately, is not a guarantee.
Lockton Benefit Group’s ERISA Compliance Attorney Rory Akers explains, “Immigration reform played a pivotal role in the 2016 elections and continues to be a priority for Republicans. With the GOP controlling Congress and President Trump in the White House, the timing to push this sort of legislation through is right. However, the current polarizing climate in Congress means the bill will likely be met with some significant opposition during the process.”
We want to hear your thoughts on E-Verify and the potential for new legislation in the comment section below.