The first bill of the annual “let’s make E-Verify permanent” ritual has been introduced in the Senate. The Accountability Through Electronic Verification Act of 2013 would permanently fund the E-Verify program and make it a national mandate for all employers.
E-Verify is an internet-based system that assists employers in determining the eligibility of employees to work in the U.S.. It is currently voluntary for many employers, but required for Federal Contractors and by some states.. E-Verify was established in 1996 as a pilot program and is currently funded through 2015. The Accountability Through Electronic Verification Act of 2013 will do the following:
- Permanently reauthorizes the E-Verify program;
- 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 immediately upon 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, and requires them 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; and,
- Requires employers to re-verify an employee’s immigration status if the employment authorization is due to expire.
The provisions of the Act are far-reaching and would completely change the current E-Verify landscape, which prohibits pre-screening of potential employees and “E-Verification” of current employees. Yet in many instances these changes are desired by employers so that they may attain more certainty in the hiring process and more confidence in their existing workforce.
It is likely that some form of national E-Verify will be included in any comprehensive immigration reform package, although agreement on other elements of that package are still far off. The Immigrationist will keep our readers up to date on legislation as it is introduced.
For additional information regarding E-Verify or any other immigration matter, contact Valentine at 215-979-1840 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.