By Kim Koratsky
Starting September 8, 2009, federal contractors will be required to use E-Verify to confirm that both current and newly hired employees working on federal contracts are authorized to work in the United States. The E-Verify system allows employers to check Social Security and visa numbers against government databases via the Internet. So, federal contractors (and subcontractors) must be prepared to implement this system in September, but is this where the requirement stops? Yes, for now.
Many in Congress would like to require E-Verify for all employers.
Representative Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) was recently quoted in a Memphis Business Journal article as saying that this expansion “could open up thousands of American jobs to workers with legal status.” Shuler is the sponsor of the Secure American Through Verification and Enforcement Act, which, in addition to increasing the number of Border Patrol agents and immigration judges, would phase the E-Verify requirement in over four years for all employers.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as well as other business groups, have filed lawsuits to challenge mandatory use of E-Verify by federal contractors. The Chamber is also challenging Arizona’s law that mandates E-Verify for all businesses. The executive director of immigration policy for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Angelo Amador, recently testified before a House hearing on E-Verify that, “reverifying an entire work force is an unduly burdensome, costly proposition, and unnecessary given how often workers change jobs in the United States.”
Certainly, the goal of verifying the status of workers is admirable. But if no telephone verification option is included in a more expansive E-Verify requirement, this may be an expensive proposition for small businesses without computer or internet access. Moreover, errors in the government databases could wreak havoc with the process of verifying the workforce. It will be interesting to see how this turns out.