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Public Statements

Letter to Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader, Re: Reauthorize E-Verify Program

GRASSLEY LEADS EFFORT TO REAUTHORIZE TOOL TO HELP BUSINESSES

Senator Chuck Grassley today led a group of Senators in asking Majority Leader Harry Reid to ensure passage of legislation to reauthorize the E-Verify program which helps employers verify the work eligibility of new employees.

"Congress is running out of time to reauthorize and even enhance E-verify. If this program expires, it gives employers even greater opportunity to hire illegal aliens," Grassley said. "It's time for the Majority Leader to act and ensure this tool is available for employers who want to do their part to comply with the law."

E-Verify is a web-based system operated by the Department of Homeland Security that allows participating employers to electronically verify the employment eligibility of newly hired employees.

The basic pilot program (now E-Verify) was first authorized in 1996 allowing only five states to participate. The program was reauthorized in 2001 and then expanded in 2003. The last expansion allowed employers in all 50 states the opportunity to voluntarily use the program. In June, the federal government released a preliminary rule that would require federal government contractors to use E-verify. The current program is set to expire on November 30.

Grassley sent the letter with Senators Jon Kyl, Arlen Specter, Johnny Isakson, David Vitter, Saxby Chambliss, Jim DeMint, Jeff Sessions, James Inhofe, John Ensign, Tom Coburn, Lindsey Graham, and Wayne Allard.

Here is a copy of the letter to Reid.

July 29, 2008

The Honorable Harry Reid
Majority Leader
United States Senate
Washington D.C. 20510

Dear Majority Leader Reid:

We write to express our strong support for the Senate to take up and pass a bill reauthorizing the Basic Pilot Program, also known as E-Verify.

The E-Verify program is a web based tool run by the Department of Homeland Security for employers across the country. Known as the Basic Pilot Program since its inception in 1996, E-Verify provides employers with a process to verify the work eligibility of new hires. The program has seen remarkable improvements in the last 12 years; however, it is set to expire in November.

Right now, nearly 80,000 employers use the program. According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, more than 1,000 employers voluntarily sign up to use E-Verify each week. The number of employers relying on the program to hire legal workers is likely to grow. Small businesses and companies that utilize it need to be able to know that Congress is not going to let this program die.

Both sides of the aisle would like to see reforms to the electronic employment verification program. Ultimately, we would prefer to pass a bill requiring mandatory participation in the program. Since there is very little time left in this session, we urge you to support a straight reauthorization of E-Verify. Extending the program will keep employers accountable while giving them the tools needed to abide by the law in their hiring practices.

We hope the Majority understands the importance of immigration enforcement, and will work with us on reauthorizing E-Verify before we adjourn for the year.

Sincerely,


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