E-Verify Anti-Fraud Enhancements Announced
The DHS and USCIS have announced the expansion of E-Verify program's capabilities to include U.S. passport photo matching-further enhancing the integrity of the program by enabling E-Verify to automatically check the validity and authenticity of all U.S. passports and passport cards presented for employment verification checks.
ICE to Continue to Focus on Prosecuting Employers that Violate Immigration Law
ICE is focused on investigating and prosecuting employers who exploit or abuse their employees and have a history of knowingly and repeatedly hiring illegal workers. In FY 2010, ICE initiated a record 2,746 worksite enforcement investigations, criminally arrested 196 employers for worksite-related violations, and issued a record 2,196 notices of inspection to employers. In addition, worksite investigations resulted in nearly $37 million in judicial fines, forfeitures, and restitutions. ICE also debarred 97 business and 49 individuals from doing business with the government, thereby bringing a new level of integrity to the contracting process, according to an ICE representative. To add to this, 1,000 more employers recently received Notices of Intent from ICE, marking the start of an I-9 audit.
Recent Report finds significant improvements to the E-Verify Program
A recent report about E-Verify issued by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) cites improvements in the reduction of mismatch rates, ensuring employer compliance, and establishing better safeguards for employees’ personal information. GAO reviewed USCIS’s E-Verify program by analyzing E-Verify query data from 2009 to 2010. GAO reported a significant reduction in the number of Tentative Non-Confirmations (TNCs), citing a 5.4 percent decrease in TNCs since FY2007. In addition, the report noted how E-Verify has added safeguards to minimize and secure the handling of new employees’ personal information by creating a privacy branch; safeguards that limit both the data collected for E-Verify and the people who can access the data. To read GAO’s report, as well as USCIS’s response to the GAO report, please visit http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d11146.pdf.
USCIS Updates I-9 Handbook
The USCIS has released an updated version of its I-9 handbook which clarifies and reinforces many critical points including when an I-9 can be started, how long an employer has before the I-9 must be completed, how long to keep the I-9, and more. Please see http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/m-274.pdf for the updated handbook.
Florida Legislation Pending to Bar Illegal Immigrant Employment
The proposed bill would require Florida employers to use the federal E-Verify employee screening system. The measure contains a safe-harbor provision that provides a rebuttable presumption that employers using E-Verify did not knowingly employ an unauthorized alien.
Certain Floridian State Agencies Must Use E-Verify
Governor Rick Scott has signed an Executive Order, effective immediately, directing all state agencies under the direction of the Governor to verify the employment eligibility of all current and prospective agency employees through the United States Department of Homeland Security’s E-Verify System. These agencies are to include, as a condition of all state contracts, an express requirement that contractors utilize the E-Verify system to confirm the employment eligibility of: (a) all persons employed during the contract and (b) all persons, including subcontractors, assigned to the contractor to perform work under the contract with the state agency. Also, agencies not under the direction of the Governor are encouraged to verify the employment eligibility of their current and prospective employees utilizing the E-Verify system.
Certain Indiana State Agencies Must Use E-Verify
Indiana has passed SB 590 requiring state agencies, political subdivisions, contractors with public contracts for services with a state or political subdivision, and certain business entities to use E-Verify. The bill also includes Arizona-like immigration including requiring law enforcement officers to verify the citizenship or immigration status of individuals in certain situations. The bill goes into effect on July 1, 2011.
Mississippi Legislation Pending to Stop Illegal Immigrant Employment
Mississippi has passed Senate Bill 2179 which would amend E-verify requirements to require employers to keep a record of the verification for the duration of the employee’s employment or at least three years, whichever is longer. The measure would also extend the authority to impose sanctions or seek penalties authorized under the law to the Department of Revenue, Board of Public Contractors, and any other state agency, department or government entity, in addition to the Department of Employment Security, Secretary of State, Department of Human Services, and the Attorney General.
The bill would also make it a misdemeanor for a person who is unlawfully present in the United States and who is an unauthorized alien to knowingly apply for work or solicit work in a public place in the state. The bill now goes before the House, which failed to pass similar immigration measures last year.
Certain Rhode Island State Agencies No Longer Required to Use E-Verify
Governor Chafee has signed an Executive Order, effective immediately, that rescinds the Illegal Immigration Control Order that required certain state agencies and vendors to use E-Verify.