In June 27, 2013, the U.S. Senate passed S.744, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill introduced by a bipartisan group of senators known as the "Gang of Eight." One of the main tenets of the bill is a path to legalization for the estimated II million undocumented immigrants currently in the U.S.; however, one section of the bill that is being monitored closely by employers and labor groups is federally-mandated E-Verify.
E-Verify is an Internet-based system operated by the Department of Homeland Security's ("DHS") U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that enables employers to verity the employment eligibility of their new hires, regardless of citizenship. Based on the information provided by the employee on his or her Form I-9,
E-Verify checks this information electronically against records contained in DHS and Social Security Administration databases. Currently, E-Verify is mandated by state law for all employers in Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah, and by the Federal Acquisition Rule for certain federal contractors. Approximately a dozen other states require E-Verify for public employers and/or state contractors. For employers in the remaining states, including Illinois, the use
of E-Verify by employers is voluntary.
If S.744 becomes law, all employers would be required to enroll in E-Verify over a five-year phase-in period: employers with more than 5,000 employees will be required to enroll in E-Verify within two years of the law's enactment, employers with more than 500 employees within three years and all other employers within four years. A photo-matching tool will be part of the E-Verify system, which will require employers to certify that the photo on the identity document presented by an employee for the Form I-9 process matches the photo stored in the E-Verify system.
S.744 now will go to the U.S. House of Representatives. According to Capitol Hill sources, the potential timetable for a bill emerging from both the Senate and House would be Thanksgiving 2013, which means that employers could be required to enroll in E-Verify as early as 2015 if the current E-Verify provisions of the bill remain intact.