Feds Delay E-Verify Deadline to May 21

By Roy Mark  |  Posted 2009-01-29

Federal officials have agreed to postpone the start of the controversial E-Verify program until May 21 at the earliest. E-Verify would require federal contractors and subcontractors to use an Internet-based electronic verification system to confirm that prospective employees are legally eligible to work.

The Jan. 28 announcement by the Department of Homeland Security of the delay marks the second time the government has postponed the implementation of the mandate. It was originally set to go into effect Jan. 15, but the feds moved the date to Feb. 20 after the U.S. Chamber of Commerce filed suit Dec. 23 challenging the legality of the program.

The Obama administration Jan. 20 urged all executive departments and agencies to consider extending the effective date of published regulations that have not yet taken effect. The Chamber of Commerce then requested that the federal government postpone the new rule requiring federal contractors to use E-Verify.

"The federal government agreed that the new administration needs time to rethink mandatory E-Verify use, particularly in light of the stressed economy," Robin Conrad, executive vice president of the National Chamber Litigation Center, said in a statement. "We are hopeful that the incoming administration will agree that E-Verify is the wrong solution at the wrong time."

The Chamber of Commerce's lawsuit challenges 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 are the Associated Builders and Contractors, the Society for Human Resource Management, the American Council on International Personnel and the HR Policy Association.

"The new administration's interest in reviewing the rule is a promising development, but it doesn't change the fact that the executive branch may not make E-Verify use mandatory when Congress clearly said that it must be voluntary," said Randy Johnson, vice president of Labor, Immigration and Employee Benefits at the Chamber of Commerce. "We're cautiously optimistic that the incoming administration will make the right choice, but if not it will be up to the court to settle the issue."

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