Immigration Enforcement

E-Verify Reauthorization Stalled With Time Running Out

Congressional efforts to reauthorize E-Verify, the electronic work authorization verification program, have stalled despite bipartisan efforts of many Members to bring a bill to the floor. The program, vital to combating the unlawful employment of illegal aliens, will expire in November if legislation to reauthorize the bill does not pass both the House and Senate before the fall recess. In March, Representative Ken Calvert (R-CA), along with sixteen cosponsors, introduced H.R.5596, which would extend the E-Verify program for a ten-year period. Plans to bring the bill to the floor were halted earlier this month when Representative Sam Johnson (R-TX) insisted that language be added to the bill that could jeopardize future funding of the operation of the program. In short, Rep. Johnson’s language would prohibit the Social Security Administration (SSA) from ever spending any of its own funds to implement the program. Since the program is a joint effort of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and SSA, this means that if DHS ever fails to enter into a reimbursement agreement with SSA, the SSA database could not be used to verify an employee’s legal work status.

Multiple Hill sources inform FAIR that efforts are underway to get a clean reauthorization bill to the House floor—i.e. the original Calvert bill without the Johnson language.  With E-Verify set to expire in November and the month-long August recess just around the corner, lawmakers are running out of time to reauthorize this important program.

Since its inception in 1996, the electronic verification program has proven to be an effective and useful tool in protecting legal workers and the individuals who hire them. In fact, in the last few years the number of employers registered for E-Verify has risen to over 75,000, and DHS recently reported that over 1,000 new employers are registering each week. (Testimony of Secretary Michael Chertoff, July 17, 2008)

In fact, support for E-Verify has grown so significantly that President Bush last month issued an executive order requiring all federal contractors to use the program for new and existing hires. (White House Press Release, June 9, 2008) Following the announcement, DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff said, “A large part of our success in enforcing the nation’s immigration laws hinges on equipping employers with the tools to determine quickly and effectively if a worker is legal or illegal. E-Verify is a proven tool that helps employers immediately verify the legal working status for all new hires.” (DHS Press Release, June 9, 2008)

In addition to federal contractors, eleven states have also enacted laws encouraging or requiring use of E-Verify for state contractors, state employees, and, in some cases, for all employees. (National Conference of State Legislatures, May 5, 2008) States included are Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Utah, and, most recently, South Carolina. (Id.) Following a contentious battle in the South Carolina State Legislature, Governor Mark Sanford praised his state’s adoption of legislation that requires all employers to use E-Verify: “We’ve said from day one that while we’re a nation of immigrants, we’re also a nation of laws – and that South Carolina shouldn’t be in the business of sanctioning illegal activity with a wink and a nod.” (Sanford Press Release, June 4, 2008)

Stay tuned for more information on legislative efforts to re-authorize E-Verify.

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July 21, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , ,

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