Immigration Law

Ann Allott on Grassley Amendment Allowing E-Verify for Existing Employees

E-Verify, an Internet-based system operated by the Department of Homeland Services in cooperation with the Social Security Administration, allows an employer to electronically verify employment eligibility of new hires, thus deterring the employment of unauthorized workers. This free screening program has generally been voluntary, with only select government entities having been required by federal law to use E-Verify. However, in June 2008, President George W. Bush directed federal agencies to require that federal contractors agree to verify the employment eligibility of their employees, including existing employees and new hires.  In discussing the July 9, 2009 Grassley Amendment, Ann Allott explains that the final rule implementing this policy becomes effective on September 8, 2009, with a new Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) E-Verify clause. She writes:
     On July 9, 2009, the Grassley Amendment (#1415) to the DHS appropriations bill (H.2892) passed by unanimous consent in the United States Senate.  It would allow employers who use E-Verify to check the employment eligibility of all current employees, not just new hires. Specifically, it states, “EXISTING EMPLOYEES—An employer that elects to verify the employment eligibility of existing employees shall verify the employment eligibility of all such employees not later than 10 days after notifying the Secretary of Homeland Security of such election.” The Senate version of H.2892 will go to a conference, where leaders from both the House and the Senate will attempt to reconcile differences between their versions of the bill.
     The Grassley Amendment gives any employer the right to elect to check its current employees with E-Verify, which is not acceptable under the current Memorandum of Understanding that users must accept.  Employers have been agreeing to join E-Verify in an effort to partner with the government to keep from employing undocumented workers who use fake identification documents that are difficult to spot as fake – but these are new hires.
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