AUTHOR: Melina V. Villalobos.
As we previously blogged about on April 17th, a comprehensive immigration reform bill has been introduced in the U.S. Senate, Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013.  While many critics have focused on the new pathways for legal migration to the U.S. contained in the 850-page bill, the new bill contains some powerful enforcement provisions that employers need to keep at the forefront of their minds.
One such enforcement provision deals with E-Verify.  E-Verify is an internet-based system sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security that allows businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States.  E-Verify is seen as a tool to ensure that employers employ a legal workforce as well as provide a disincentive to individuals who seek to work illegally in this country.  E-Verify currently is mandatory only in a handful of states; however, the new legislation would make E-Verify mandatory for all employers across the nation.  The phase-in period, ranging from 90 days to four years, would vary according to the company’s number of employees.

In addition, the bill includes language indicating that employers will be presumed to have knowingly hired an unauthorized worker if they do not verify the individual’s work authorization via E-Verify after their mandatory enrollment date. The new bill would permit employers to utilize a three-day grace period for re-verifying the work authorization of employees with expired work authorization.  It also calls for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to create tamper-resistant Social Security Cards to combat document fraud.  Lastly, the new legislation provides for enhanced photo-matching tools to close-up loopholes that have allowed employees to circumvent E-Verify through identity-theft and ID-borrowing.

Jackson Lewis will continue to monitor developments surrounding comprehensive immigration reform and provide additional updates about issue-specific proposals as we continue to assess the proposed changes contemplated by this bill.