House Judiciary Committee Approves Legal Workforce Act

September 22, 2011 05:56 AM

Bill would require all U.S. employers to use E-Verify.

Source: House Committee on the Judiciary news release

Washington, DC – The House Judiciary Committee yesterday approved the Legal Workforce Act (H.R. 2885), a bill that could open up millions of jobs for unemployed American workers by requiring all U.S. employers to use E-Verify. The bill was reported favorably to the House floor by a vote of 22-13.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), the bill’s primary sponsor, praised the Committee vote.

Chairman Smith: “Twenty-three million Americans are unemployed or can’t find full-time work. At the same time, seven million people are working illegally. These jobs should go to American citizens and legal workers. The unemployment rate in the black community is 17% and among Hispanics it’s 11%. Anyone who cares about helping unemployed Americans should care about opening up jobs for them.

“E-Verify allows employers to electronically verify that newly-hired employees are authorized to work in the U.S. The program is free, quick and easy to use. Nearly 300,000 American employers voluntarily use E-Verify and over 1,000 new businesses sign up every week.

“The Legal Workforce Act could open up millions of jobs for unemployed Americans by requiring employers to use E-Verify. It makes no sense to rely on the paper-based, error-prone I-9 system when a successful, web-based program is available. Today it takes an unemployed American nine months to find a job. With E-Verify, we can open up a new job in one to two minutes.”

Background: Created 15 years ago, E-Verify allows employers to electronically verify that newly hired employees are legally authorized to work in the U.S. Specifically, the Social Security numbers 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.

Both businesses and the American people overwhelmingly support E-Verify. The Legal Workforce Act enjoys support from a broad coalition, including Numbers USA, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Restaurant Association, National Association of Home Builders, among many others. And a May 2011 Rasmussen poll found that 82% of likely voters support requiring all U.S. employers to use E-Verify.

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.


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