WASHINGTON – Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley today is introducing legislation to make permanent the E-Verify program, a web-based tool that allows employers to verify the work eligibility of new employees. The bill would also require that all employers use the E-Verify program within one year of enactment of the legislation. Grassley’s legislation also makes several needed improvements to the program.
“E-Verify has already proven effective in combating the hiring of illegal aliens. It’s a simple tool for employers who want to comply with the law in a digital age when sophisticated, fraudulent documents are just the stroke of a computer key away,” Grassley said. “This legislation allows us to hold employers accountable while giving them the tools needed to abide by the law in their hiring practices.”
The E-verify program, formerly the basic pilot program, was first authorized in 1996 and only five states were allowed to participate. The program was reauthorized in 2001, expanded in 2003 by Grassley, and reauthorized again in 2008. E-verify is currently used by 269,913 employers. Since the system was created, improvements have been made to significantly decrease error rates including an appeal process, a self check option for people to make sure their information is correct, and a photo-tool capability to improve the ability of employers to determine if the employee and the photo match.
Here are the provisions of the legislation.
• Makes permanent the E-Verify program that was created in 1996.
• Makes E-Verify mandatory for all employers within one year of date of enactment
• Clarifies that federal contractors and the Federal Government (executive and legislative branches) must use it, and allows the Secretary to require “critical employers” to use it immediately.
• Increases penalties for employers who don’t use the system or 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, if the applicant consents.
• Requires employers to check the status of existing employees within 3 years.
• Requires employers to re-verify a person’s status if their employment authorization is due to expire.
• 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 use of Social Security numbers by requiring them to develop algorithms to detect anomalies.
• 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.
• Establishes a demonstration project in a rural area or area without internet capabilities to assist small businesses in complying with the participation requirement.
• Provides an offset to pay for any upgrades or expenses required by the legislation using unobligated funds from various departments.