Yesterday, President Obama unveiled his fiscal year 2010 budget which supports strengthening border security as well as immigration enforcement and services. Of particular interest, the President’s budget would provide $112 million for the continued expansion and improvement of E-Verify. A fact sheet outlining the various Department of Homeland Security provisions is available at the Office of Management and Budget web site.
In related news, Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, testified before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary to discuss DHS initiatives, including strengthening work eligibility verification through E-Verify. As before, she stated that E-Verify is an essential tool for employers to maintain a legal workforce, citing increasing enrollment (more than 122,000 employers) and improving accuracy (only 0.4% successfully contested mismatches). She also emphasized that DHS is dedicated to increasing E-Verify’s effectiveness through employer training and a strong monitoring and compliance program. Outreach plans include releasing bilingual English and Spanish videos for employers and employees to teach them the proper use of E-Verify and providing additional online materials.
Although additional materials will be a welcome relief, employers should strongly consider utilizing an electronic I-9 and E-Verify software package to ensure 100% compliance with both I-9 and E-Verify rules, which can often be confusing and even contradictory. Employers can request a free E-Verify and Form I-9 HR Toolkit from the Tracker I-9™ website to read about I-9 and E-Verify best practices and learn how software can meet these new demands.
The Acting Deputy Director of the USCIS, Michael Aytes, spoke before the House Committee on Appropriations on April 2nd to discuss and promote E-Verify. Mr. Aytes addressed several criticisms of the program which were originally raised from a 2007 evaluation and also mentioned future plans to improve the system (including an electronic I-9). The entire transcript can be read here.
Mr. Aytes also acknowledged that the E-Verify program must include robust tools to detect and deter employer and employee fraud and misuse. As part of this initiative, the USCIS has established a Monitoring and Compliance Branch, which reviews E-Verify transaction data to detect and deter employer misuse, fraud and discriminatory practices, and offers compliance assistance to help employers use the system correctly. E-Verify has also instituted procedures to refer cases of non-compliance to ICE and the DOJ Office of Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices.
To ensure compliance with E-Verify and avoid claims of discrimination, employers should be careful to follow the E-Verify program rules precisely and consult with counsel on difficult situations. When using electronic software, be careful of systems which over-automate E-Verify and always ask your vendor how they handle steps which require active “human” choices.
Latest E-Verify Usage from Mr. Aytes:
- Employers have run over 3.6 million queries thus far in FY 2009.
- 3.9 percent of queries resulted in a mismatch, or a Tentative Nonconfirmation (TNC)
- Of that 3.9 percent who were not immediately authorized, 0.4 percent of queries are those who were issued a TNC and successfully contested the case. The remaining 3.5 percent of queries that are not found work authorized by the system either did not contest the TNC, were unsuccessful in contesting or were found unauthorized to work at the secondary verification stage.