Trust But (E-)Verify
In less than two minutes, E-Verify quickly confirms nearly 99 percent of work-eligible employees.We can do a lot with today’s technology. With just a few clicks on your smart phone or computer, you can complete a number of transactions almost instantaneously. It makes sense that this technology should translate to different aspects of our daily lives, including the hiring process for employers and the enforcement of America’s immigration laws. That’s exactly what the E-Verify program does.
E-Verify, operated by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, is today a voluntary program that checks the social security numbers of newly hired employees against existing Social Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security records to help ensure that they are genuinely eligible to work in the United States. It’s an easy system for employers to use. All an employer has to do is access the website and input a prospective employee’s information. In less than two minutes, E-Verify quickly confirms nearly 99 percent of work-eligible employees. More than 740,000 American employers currently use E-Verify, and 83 percent of America’s employers support a mandatory electronic verification system.
The Legal Workforce Act, which I recently helped introduce, brings our nation’s employment eligibility system into the 21st century. Rather than relying on the current paper-based I-9 system that is susceptible to fraud, this bill requires all U.S. employers to use E-Verify. The Legal Workforce Act balances the needs of the American people regarding immigration enforcement with the needs of the business community for a fair and workable electronic employment verification system. The bill phases-in E-Verify use in six month increments beginning with the largest U.S. businesses, raises penalties for employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants or submit false information, and provides meaningful safe harbors for employers who use the system in good faith.
The Legal Workforce Act is also an important complement to immigration enforcement solutions being worked on in the House Judiciary Committee. By expanding a simple, technologically efficient program to verify employee eligibility and enforce immigration laws, this allows for reforms to our broken agricultural guestworker program to advance as well. While fixing America’s legal immigration system is important, strengthening our borders and enhancing existing immigration laws must come first. Through E-Verify, the Legal Workforce Act will help preserve jobs for citizens and legal workers, further discouraging illegal immigration.
The Judiciary Committee will continue to pursue legislative solutions to see that our immigration laws are enforced and that the system works for the United States and its citizens. I look forward to the Judiciary Committee’s consideration of the Legal Workforce Act. Expanding E-Verify nationwide is a critical component to the interior enforcement of our immigration laws and will help maintain the integrity of our immigration system for the years ahead.