Although the U.S. House of Representatives passed a five-year extension back in July, as of this writing, the U.S. Senate is stalling on a vote to reauthorize E-Verify, an electronic database used to verify the legal status of U.S. workers. The program, which is operated by the Department of Homeland Security in partnership with the Social Security Administration, is scheduled to expire on Nov. 30.

No system is perfect, although proponents of the program claim 99.5 percent accuracy. The check can be done quickly, typically within a few seconds. According to reports, of those checked, the vast majority receive immediate authorization for work, 5 percent may be flagged as possible non-confirmations, and less than 1 percent are indicated to be non-confirmations.

Since E-Verify went into effect, more than have 84,000 employers voluntarily participated in the program, with almost 6 million queries run through the system in 2008 alone. Seven states have legislation requiring the use of E-Verify, while another 14 states have laws in place recommending the use of the database program. (See sidebar.) Both Missouri and Florida have put in place laws that will go into effect in 2009.

E-Verify Use by States

Florida and Missouri have laws that are scheduled to go into effect in 2009.

Sources: i9 Advantage LLC, Fisher & Phillips LLP, Dinsmore & Shohl LLP

Legislative Battle

The most recent bill in legislation pertaining to this issue, S 3257 sponsored by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), went before the Congress in late September. Unlike previous attempts, this bill would not make E-Verify mandatory on all employers, yet, as does with HR 6633, would extend the program for another five years.

However, the debate in the Senate continues. Opponents, most notably Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), are trying to tie into the bill provisions which would open the number of visas — reportedly 550,00 extra visas — into this country.

In my opinion, Sen. Menendez’s demands are not in the best interest of our country, which is already reeling from high unemployment rates and job competition. I believe that those states which do not institute some form of legal verification are instead encouraging illegal aliens to work there, at the expense of U.S. citizens.

I fully concur with Sen. Sessions, who said in his remarks before Congress on this issue, “The most thing that needs to be passed — and it would be unthinkable were it not to pass — would be the extension of the E-Verify program.”

If you agree, contact your legislators.

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