- Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) has introduced legislation that would mandate E-Verify, the web-based program that allows employers to check workers' eligibility to work in the United States. Currently, it's up to states to decide whether business must use the system.
- If passed, the Legal Workforce Act would replace the Form I-9 paper-based system, phase in the E-Verify mandate for new employees in six-month increments and permit employers to use E-Verify for current workers in a nondiscriminatory manner. It also would override states' E-Verify rules (but allow states to have enforcement power), and grant employers that use E-Verify in good faith a safe harbor from prosecution, among other things.
- The Society for Human Resource Management has voiced support for the bill, saying that employers want "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."
If passed, the new bill would rein in what proponents call irregular, inconsistent use of E-Verify. States' haphazard use of the system has allowed employers to skirt requirements, even while the federal government stepped up enforcement of its immigration policy, they say.
They've deemed these companies "sanctuary businesses" because of the pseudo-protection state governments granted them in not enforcing E-Verify requirements.
Despite support, it's not clear if the bill will make it to the president's desk just yet. In the meantime, employers need to keep an eye on the changing I-9 forms — the latest of which goes into effect today.