Supreme Court Decision Clears The Way For States To Mandate E-Verify

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On Thursday, May 26, the Supreme Court of the United States upheld an Arizona law that makes employer participation in E Verify mandatory and which provides for the revocation of business licenses for employers that employ unauthorized workers. Georgia, Tennessee, and a number of other states have recently enacted similar laws, and the Supreme Court’s ruling eliminates the primary challenge to the enforceability of those laws. In other words, it is now much more likely that the various employment-authorization mandates being imposed on employers in Georgia, Tennessee, and other states will take effect and apply to employers within those states.

In 1996, the federal government implemented E-Verify, a computerized employment eligibility verification system in which employers could voluntarily participate. To promote use of E-Verify, the federal Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act granted employers that confirmed a worker’s eligibility through E-Verify a rebuttable presumption that the employer had not violated federal law against hiring undocumented workers. This rebuttable presumption could be raised in court as a defense to charges of hiring unauthorized workers in violation of federal law.

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