Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has signed on to legislation to make permanent the E-Verify program, an online tool that all employers would be required to use to verify the work eligibility of new employees.
Introduced late Tuesday by Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the Achieving Accountability Through Electronic Verification Act (S.1196), would make major improvements to the program, which was launched on a limited basis 15 years ago.
вЂњE-Verify has already proven its worth in slowing the flow of employers hiring illegal aliens,вЂќ Hatch said. вЂњThe program has also proven to be an invaluable tool in helping law-abiding employers ensure that job applicants are eligible to work in the U.S. before they hire them. This legislation will require all employers to use E-Verify within one year of the enactment of the bill into law. It helps bring more accountability and transparency to the hiring process.вЂќ
Formerly known as the basic pilot program, the E-Verify program was initially authorized in 1996 with only five states permitted to participate. The program has since been expanded and is currently used by 269,913 employers. This legislation improves the program substantially to reduce errors. It further includes an appeals process, a self-check feature for people to ensure their information is accurate, and photo capability to help employers determine if employees and their photos match.
Other original co-sponsors of the legislation are: Sens. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), David Vitter (R-La.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and John Barrasso (R-Wyoming).
Here are the key provisions of the legislation:
- Makes permanent the E-Verify program that was created in 1996.
- Makes E-Verify mandatory for all employers within one year of date of enactment
- Clarifies that federal contractors and the Federal Government (executive and legislative branches) must use it, and allows the Secretary to require вЂњcritical employersвЂќ to use it immediately.
- Increases penalties for employers who donвЂ™t use the system or illegally hire undocumented workers.
- Reduces the liability that employers face if they participate in E-Verify when it involves the wrongful termination of an individual.
- Allows employers to use E-Verify before a person is hired, if the applicant consents.
- Requires employers to check the status of existing employees within 3 years.
- Requires employers to re-verify a personвЂ™s status if their employment authorization is due to expire.
- Requires employers to terminate the employment of those found unauthorized to work due to a check through E-Verify.
- Helps ensure that the Social Security Administration catches multiple use of Social Security numbers by requiring them to develop algorithms to detect anomalies.
- Amends the criminal code to make clear that defendants who possess or otherwise use identity information not their own without lawful authority and in the commission of another felony is still punishable for aggravated identity fraud, regardless of the defendantвЂ™s вЂњknowledgeвЂќ of the victim.
- Establishes a demonstration project in a rural area or area without internet capabilities to assist small businesses in complying with the participation requirement.
- Provides an offset to pay for any upgrades or expenses required by the legislation using unobligated funds from various departments.