E-Verify Requirements Become Law

By Roy Mark  |  Posted 2009-09-08

Despite a last-minute legal appeal by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Department of Homeland Security's E-Verify electronic employment verification system became effective Sept. 8, requiring federal contractors to enroll in E-Verify to confirm the identity and employment eligibility of both citizen and non-citizen workers in the United States.

E-Verify is an Internet-based system operated by the DHS in partnership with the Social Security Administration. According to numbers released to the Center for Immigration Studies by the Department of Homeland Security, E-Verify is currently being used to determine work authorization for one in four new hires in the United States.

Led by the U.S. Chamber, businesses have opposed the implementation of E-Verify, contending the system is too costly and imperfect to require mandatory use by federal contractors and subcontractors. A DHS study claims that E-Verify database errors will result in about 4,000 U.S. workers in every 1 million being initially denied eligibility.

The business groups won four delays of the implementation of the E-Verify program, but an Aug. 25 ruling by a Maryland judge dismissed the Chamber's lawsuit and cleared the way for the Sept. 8 deadline. Originally ordered by former President Bush, President Obama signed off on the order in July.

The Chamber of Commerce's lawsuit challenged the government's use of a presidential executive order coupled with a federal procurement law to make E-Verify mandatory for federal contractors with projects exceeding $100,000 and for subcontractors with projects exceeding $3,000. The Chamber of Commerce also challenged the expansion of E-Verify to require the reauthorization of existing workers.

Also joining in the lawsuit were the Associated Builders and Contractors, the Society for Human Resource Management, the American Council on International Personnel and the HR Policy Association.

Legislation is pending in Congress that would extend E-Verify to private employers.

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