Senators Reintroduce Bill to Help Businesses Comply with Worker Eligibility Laws
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) reintroduced legislation to help businesses comply with immigration laws by certifying the legal status of their workforce. The Accountability Through Electronic Verification Act would permanently authorize and expand the E-Verify program, an internet--based system that assists employers in determining whether current or prospective employees are authorized to work in the United States. The bill requires employers to use the program to determine workers' eligibility.
Grassley's bill is cosponsored by senators Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), John Thune (R-S.D.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).
"Businesses across the country have opted to use the E-Verify system to help them comply with our immigration laws. E-Verify is a proven tool for employers, including myself, that helps reduce incentives for illegal immigration and safeguards job opportunities for Americans and other legal workers. Expanding the system to every workplace will improve accountability for all businesses and take an important step toward putting American workers first," Grassley said.
"President Biden wants to halt deportations and allow illegal aliens to roam freely across our borders. It is more important than ever for employers to be able to determine the immigration status of their employees, and E-Verify is one of the most effective tools we have in our tool kit. This legislation will make it easier for employers to verify the legal status of the employees they hire, and this commonsense program should be made permanent and mandatory," Blackburn said.
"Employers need a commonsense, cost-effective tool that allows them to hire with confidence. Law enforcement must be empowered to hold bad actors accountable when they willfully violate immigration rules while hiring employees. E-Verify does both. It has a proven track record of success and should be permanently reauthorized and made mandatory for employers," Boozman said.
"E-Verify helps streamline the process between our businesses and immigration laws, creating ease for both our employers and workers. Lowering unemployment and making good-paying jobs accessible is vital to the future success of our state, and I'm happy to support this effort to improve the hiring process in our country. The implementation of this system will foster workplace accountability and prioritize American workers," Capito said.
"Most illegal immigrants come here in search of jobs, where they ultimately compete against working Americans in the job market, bidding down wages. Because illegal aliens are willing to work under the table for little pay and few benefits, crooked employers have a strong incentive to hire them, regardless of the law. Permanent, nationwide E-Verify will help us build an economy that works for American citizens, while eliminating a serious incentive for illegal aliens to come here in violation of our laws," Cotton said.
"E-Verify is a commonsense, cost effective way to help deter illegal immigration. This bill will help ease the burden on Iowa's small businesses to comply with our immigration laws and ensure the legal status of our workforce," Ernst said.
"Mississippi has mandated use of the E-Verify system for many years to verify worker eligibility and ensure that legal workers fill available jobs. I fully support making the E-Verify program permanent and mandatory in order to support American workers and stop illegal immigration into our nation," Hyde-Smith said.
"Incentivizing illegal immigrants to come to the United States without going through the legal process is extremely dangerous. This disadvantages Oklahomans and all those who have immigrated here legally. It is disappointing that after all these years, we still don't have mandatory immigration verification for employment. Permanently implementing the E-Verify system is an important step towards ensuring our borders are secure and ensuring compliance with our immigration laws. Making America safer should be something we are all committed to, which is why I am glad to be a cosponsor of Sen. Grassley's bill today," Inhofe said.
"The driving force behind illegal immigration is work. America is the land of opportunity--hopefully it always will be. To keep it that way, those who come here to work must abide by our immigration and employment laws. E-verify is an essential tool for protecting wages and jobs for both Americans and those who come here through the proper processes," Lee said.
"E-Verify is an important tool for enforcing our immigration laws and helps ensure fair competition and wages for U.S. workers. This is about accountability and closing avenues for illegal immigration and trafficking," Thune said.
"E-verify is a proven program that should be made mandatory and permanent. Over the past 24 years, it has helped employers comply with U.S. immigration laws, stemmed the flow of illegal immigrants looking for work in the U.S., and helped ensure that American jobs are going to legal residents," Wicker said.
Currently, employers voluntarily submit information from an employee's Form I-9 to the Department of Homeland Security through the E-Verify system, which works in partnership with the Social Security Administration to determine worker eligibility. There is no cost for employers to use E-Verify. More than 750,000 businesses use the program today.
E-Verify was established in 1996 as a pilot program with employers in five states allowed to participate. The pilot program was reauthorized in 2001, expanded to employers in every state in 2003 under Grassley-authored legislation and reauthorized several times since 2008.
The Accountability Through Electronic Verification Act does the following:
Permanently reauthorizes the E-Verify program that was created in 1996.
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 within 30 days of 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 if consent is provided by the employee.
Requires employers 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.
Requires employers to re-verify an employee's immigration status if the employment authorization is due to expire.
Establishes an Employer Compliance Inspection Center (ECIC) within ICE to streamline program audits and review compliance with worker eligibility laws.