The House of Representatives late Thursday voted to extend an employment eligibility verification program that Congressman Elton Gallegly (R-Ventura & Santa Barbara Counties) initiated 12 years ago.
The bill passed on a 407-2 vote.
The Employee Verification Amendment Act reauthorizes the Basic Pilot electronic employment eligibility verification program, also known as E-Verify, for five years. Without congressional action, E-Verify will expire November.
"Every employer who uses E-Verify praises it as user friendly and, more importantly, employee and employer friendly," Gallegly said. "It's a quick, simple and accurate method of verifying an employee has a legal right to work in the United States."
E-Verify is an Internet-based system that can be used to verify the employment eligibility of newly hired employees. It does so by checking the employee's Social Security number and citizenship status against the Social Security database. For non-citizens, it also checks work authorization status against a separate Department of Homeland Security database.
The federal program is voluntary, although in the past two years, more than a dozen states have passed employee verification laws. Some, like Arizona, have mandated E-Verify for all employers while other states require employers in certain sectors, such as government employers and contractors, to verify their employees' work authorization status.
Gallegly introduced the Basic Pilot program as one of the recommendations to come out of the 1995 Task Force on Immigration Reform, which Gallegly chaired. More than 80 recommendations from the task force, including Basic Pilot, became the basis for the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996.
Gallegly is working with like-minded colleagues to expand E-Verify to federal contractors in both the executive and legislative branch and to make it permanent and mandatory for all employers.