Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA), the original author of legislation that created the E-Verify program, praised the Judiciary Committee passage of H.R. 2885, the Legal Workforce Act. Rep. Calvert was an original cosponsor of the bill along with Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) and others.
"Yesterday marked the first step towards ensuring that American jobs are going to American workers and legal residents," said Rep. Ken Calvert. "I commend the Committee for passing the bill but I am disappointed that a vital provision was stripped out. Chairman Smith, and all of us involved in crafting the legislation, were sensitive how the legislative impacts the agriculture industry and that is why a prior employment exemption was originally included. The result of omitting that language will only make it harder on the agriculture community. I look forward to discussing possible floor amendments to the bill in order to increase chances of Senate passage. However, the most important aspects of the bill remain intact; namely to mandate all employers in the U.S. use E-Verify and ensure they are following the law when hiring their workforce."
E-Verify allows employers to electronically verify that newly-hired employees are legally authorized to work in the United States. Specifically, the Social Security numbers (or Employment Authorization Numbers for legal residents) of new hires are checked against Social Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security records in order to eliminate fraudulent numbers and help ensure that new hires are genuinely eligible to work. The program quickly confirms 99.5% of work-eligible employees.
Below is a summary of some of the major components in H.R. 2885.
Replaces I-9 System: Replaces the current paper-based I-9 system with a completely electronic work eligibility check.
Gradual Phase-In: Phases-in mandatory E-Verify participation for new hires in six month increments beginning on the date of enactment. Within six months of enactment, businesses having more than 10,000 employees are required to use E-Verify. Within 12 months after enactment, businesses having 500 to 9,999 employees are required to use E-Verify. Within 18 months after enactment, businesses having 20 to 499 employees must use E-Verify. And within 24 months after enactment, businesses having 1 to 19 employees must use E-Verify.
Agriculture: Requires that employees performing "agricultural labor or services" are only subject to an E-Verify check within 36 months of the date of enactment.
Federal Preemption: Preempts state laws mandating E-Verify use for employment eligibility purposes but retains the ability of states and localities to condition business licenses on the requirement that the employer use E-Verify in good faith under the federal law.
Safe Harbor: Grants employers safe harbor from prosecution if they use the E-Verify program in good faith, and through no fault of theirs, receive an incorrect eligibility confirmation.