Senate Bill No. 744, known as the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, was introduced in the Senate on April 16, 2013, is now being considered by the House of Representatives, and Title III of the bill will phase in mandatory use of the federal E-Verify system by employers so that they can accurately and consistently determine employment eligibility.
The E-Verify system is currently operational and allows employers to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the U.S. by comparing information from an employee’s Form I-9 to data from U.S. government records. Unfortunately, because the system is not mandatory, fewer than one percent of employers are currently using it.
Under S. 744, however, E-Verify will be expanded, improved and made mandatory for all employers to use, with the mandates being phased in over a five-year period as follows:
Employers with more than 5,000 employees would have to use E-Verify no later than two years after publication of the regulations;
Employers with more than 500 employees would have to use the system within three years of publication;
Employers of agricultural workers would have to use the system within four years of publication; and
All other employers would have to use the system within four years of publication as well.
The proposal would also mandate the use of enhanced, fraud-proof Social Security cards and high-tech photo imaging tools for verifying an individual’s identity. Employers will be required to confirm identity and employment authorization within three business days after and employee accepts an offer of employment.
A mandatory entry and exit system will also be implemented at all air and sea ports under this bill, which will take precedence over all local and state laws related to the hiring of foreign nationals, creating a uniform national standard.
Those employers who knowingly hire, recruit, refer or continue to employ an unauthorized immigrant or who fail to comply with E-Verify requirements will be subject to increased civil or criminal penalties up to $25,000 per violation and two years in prison for repeated offenses.
On the other hand, employers who can prove that they complied with the E-Verify system requirements in good faith will not be penalized at all for employing an unauthorized worker.
We will be tracking continuing developments in federal immigration reform as they occur, and look forward to bringing you more information in the months ahead about the progress of proposed reforms on Capitol Hill.