E-Verify: new Internet-based program to verify employment eligibility
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E-Verify is an Internet-based program allowing employers to verify new hires’ employment eligibility by accessing information in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) database, as well as, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) database. Basically, participating employers can compare information taken from a new hire’s I-9 form against the SSA and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) immigration databases. To participate, an employer must accept a Memorandum of Understanding (9 pages) and should consider the users’ manual describing the details of the E-Verify program (79 pages). An employer who participates in E-Verify is required to verify the employment eligibility of all new employees, independent of their citizenship status. However, participation in E-Verify does not provide a safe harbor from worksite enforcement. A notice of participation and an antidiscrimination notice must be posted clearly visible to prospective employees. According to Scharfen, Acting Director of USCIS, over 69,000 employers representing 269,000 worksites were signed up to use E-Verify by June 2008. According to DHS, more than 10 percent of all new hires were checked through the E-Verify program earlier this year. Several states do require or encourage the use of E-Verify under certain circumstances and one state is trying to limit its use.
The E-Verify program was scheduled to sunset November 29, 2008. However, on July 31, 2008 the House of Representatives voted to reauthorize the voluntary E-Verify program for an additional five years. The Senate was not able to agree on a similar bill, but voted on September 27, 2008 to approve a continuing resolution extending the E-Verify program to March 6, 2009. President Bush signed this bill September 30, 2008. The extension opens up the possibility of a broader immigration debate or an increase in available visas, shortly after the election. On December 23, 2008 the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with other plaintiffs, filed suit against the Department of Homeland Security for making E-Verify compulsory for federal contractors. The Obama administration is currently reviewing this and other programs.
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