U.S. Chamber of Commerce Opposes Rule for Mandatory Use of E-Verify by Federal Contractors As Number of U.S. Employers Using the Program Keeps Growing
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, representing more than three million businesses and organizations, has come out against the proposed Bush Administration rule requiring Federal contractors to participate in the E-Verify Program. Opposition to E-Verify from business groups and organizations concerned with protecting employment and privacy rights has not slowed down, however, the U.S. employers’ reliance on the program. It seems very likely that Congress will extend E-Verify, which is set to expire in November, for at least the next five years.
In establishing E-Verify, Congress designated it from the beginning for most participants as a voluntary Internet-based program. But some new Federal regulations as well as new laws passed in a number of states have since made its use mandatory for various categories of employees and employers. The Bush Administration now wants to extend it on a mandatory basis to virtually all federal contractors and subcontractors. The Rule would also expand its applicability from new hires only, as is the case in the current voluntary system, to many existing employees of the contractors and subcontractors.
The Chamber of Commerce objected to the Proposed Rule as harmful to business, calling it “misguided, premature, and unwarranted.” The Chamber also concluded that the President exceeded his legal authority by seeking to make a voluntary program mandatory for U.S. employers. It conceded, however, that the Federal Government and employers have a compelling interest in seeing that every tool is made available to employers to ensure a legal workforce.
The House of Representatives recently voted to renew E-Verify for an additional five years and wants to keep it voluntary. It also ordered studies on E-Verify error rates, their causes, and the impact and costs of erroneous non-confirmations on individuals, employers, and Federal agencies. Other E-Verify bills are pending in the Senate.
Since its inception in 1997 as the Basic Pilot/Employment Eligibility Verification Program, E-Verify has always been controversial with civil rights advocates and some business groups, while some companies, legislators and government officials see it as a useful tool for ensuring a legal workforce. The primary concern over E-Verify has been with potential discrimination against noncitizens, ethnic and racial minorities, and with errors in verifying identity and employment eligibility of employees.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which administers the program, maintains that 99.5 percent of all work-authorized employees verified through E-Verify are cleared without receiving a Tentative Non-confirmation (TNC) or having to take any type of corrective action. In a recent Congressional testimony, USCIS acting director Jonathan Scharfen acknowledged, however, that E-Verify needs safeguards to protect privacy rights and prevent misuse.
It’s still too early to tell what the final version of any new E-Verify legislation will look like, and what will happen to the proposed rule on making E-Verify mandatory for Federal contractors. But as we reported in a earlier post, the use of E-Verify is growing in the U.S. by over 1000 employers per week.
Regardless of what shape the E-Verify legislation will take, the Tracker I-9™ team is ready to assist U.S. employers by providing a secure and reliable Form I-9 management system with E-Verify and making all the necessary software modifications to keep up with the changing laws and regulations. Attorneys on our team continue to track changes in U.S. laws and are part of the software evaluation process. We will try to keep you informed through our blog and our website about any significant E-Verify and Form I-9 changes and developments.
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Posted by Tracker I-9™ team.
Disclaimer: The content of this post does not constitute direct legal advice and is designed for informational purposes only. Information provided through this website should never replace the need for involving informed counsel on your employment and immigration issues.