The U.S. Chamber of Commerce challenges the legality of requiring federal contractors and sub-contractors to use the Department of Homeland Security's E-Verify system.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce sued the Department of Homeland
Security Dec. 23, challenging the legality of the agency's E-Verify program.
The Chamber contends the program, which requires federal contractors and
subcontractors to use E-Verify to confirm prospective employees are legally
eligible to work, is illegal under federal law.The Chamber's lawsuit challenges the government's use of
an executive order coupled with federal procurement law to make E-Verify
mandatory for federal contractors with projects exceeding $100,000 and for
sub-contractors with projects exceeding $3,000. The Chamber also challenged
expanding E-Verify to require the re-authorization of existing workers.
Joining the Chamber in the lawsuit are the Associated
Builders and Contractors, the Society for Human Resources Management, the American
Council on International Personnel and the HR Policy Association.
"This massive expansion of E-Verify is not only bad
policy, it's unlawful," Robin Conrad, executive vice president of the
National Chamber Litigation Center, said in a statement. "The
administration can't use an Executive Order to circumvent federal immigration
and procurement laws. Federal law explicitly prohibits the secretary of
Homeland Security from making E-Verify mandatory or from using it to
re-authorize the existing workforce."The executive order requires companies to E-Verify all new
hires and employees assigned to prime contracts awarded as of Jan. 15 of at least
$100,000 and 120 days and subcontracts of $3,000."The DHS intends to expand E-Verify on an
unprecedented scale in a very short timeframe, and to impose liability on
government contractors who are unable to comply," said Randy Johnson, vice
president of Labor, Immigration and Employee Benefits at the U.S. Chamber.
"Given the current economy, now is not the time to add more bureaucracy
and billions of dollars in compliance costs to America's businesses."
Employer groups have long complained that E-Verify is too
costly and imperfect to require use by federal contractors and subcontractors.
The Chamber contends that only Congress, not a federal agency like Homeland
Security, has the legal authority to impose mandatory compliance.The
case, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, is Chamber
of Commerce of the United States of America, et al. v. Chertoff, et al
and seeks to declare the executive order null and void.