Today, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce testified before a House Subcommittee on “E-Verify Challenges and Opportunities.” Speaking for the Chamber, Mr. Angelo Amador voiced concerns of the business community at a potential expansion of the E-Verify program while laying out his recommendations for a fair, efficient and workable system. Throughout his testimony, Mr. Amador indicated that most businesses would support E-Verify or some other employment eligibility verification (EEV) system as long as it addresses the concerns of both large and small businesses. In particular, he advocated the following principals for a comprehensive solution:
- An E-Verify mandate should be implemented in a fair and reasonable roll out (or tiered approach). Mr. Amador also urged the committee to consider exempting businesses with less than 50 employees for whom the burdens of a new system may be too great.
- Contractors should not be liable for subcontractor actions unless the contractor knows the sub is hiring undocumented workers or otherwise violating the law.
- E-Verify should only be mandatory for new hires and employers should be able to reverify existing employees on a purely voluntary basis. Mr. Amador noted that Chamber members large and small had been reporting a TNC rate closer to 15%, which would make reverifications costly and burdensome. Instead, he recommended that employers only be required to reverify if DHS obtains a mismatch from W-2 data.
- There should be only one federal E-Verify law which preempts all state and local actions.
- Enforcement provisions must be fair and businesses must be given an opportunity to rectify minor paperwork violations.
- DHS should have primary authority to enforce E-Verify, and trial attorneys should not be able to use the federal RICO statute to enforce immigration law.
- Penalties for noncompliance should be proportionate to the offense and comparable to other penalties in the employment law arena. Enforcement agencies should have more discretion to mitigate penalties. DHS should not have authority to automatically debar employers from federal contracts. Anti-discrimination penalties should not be expanded in light of the “catch-22” position that many employers face.
- Documents should be retooled in the long run (with biometrics) and the number of acceptable documents should be limited to reduce identity theft issues and employer confusion.
- E-Verify checks should be started earlier and finalized sooner (maximum of 30 days from date of initial inquiry)
- The government should be held accountable for E-Verify mistakes through an administrative and judicial review process. Employers and employees should be able to contest findings and seek lost wages and/or attorneys’ fees and costs.
- E-Verify should not have an overly burdensome document retention requirement.
- An expansion of E-Verify should not serve as a back door to expand employment laws.
The entire statement is available in PDF here.