Every employer in America may soon have to use E-Verify to check the legal status of their employees.
Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley introduced a bill Tuesday requiring all employers to use the now-voluntary, internet-based E-Verify system to certify employee immigration status and terminate anyone who fails the test.
The chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary introduced the Accountability Through Electronic Verification Act before, but its chances of passing are far greater with Republican majorities in Congress and Republican President Donald Trump — who campaigned on stricter immigration policies — in the White House.
“Businesses across the country have opted to use the E-Verify system to help comply with our immigration laws,” Grassley said Tuesday in a statement.
“E-Verify is a proven tool for employers, including myself, that helps reduce incentives for illegal immigration and safeguards job opportunities for Americans and other legal workers. Expanding the system to every workplace will improve accountability for all businesses and take an important step toward putting American workers first.”
Grassley’s bill allows employers to check legal status of potential hires too, but only as long as the person consents.
The bill requires employers to terminate any employee who fails to meet legal status requirements, and forces employers to check legal status for all employees every three years.
Grassley’s legislation also toughens punishment for employees who hire illegal immigrants, dinging employers who break the law with penalties up to $25,000. (RELATED: Top DHS Investigator: Agency Should Stop Using Electronic Immigration System)
The bill also makes E-Verify a permanent program, eliminating the need for congressional reauthorization every few years.
Nearly 700,000 businesses currently use E-Verify, which is free for employers. Businesses submit information reported on an employee’s Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through the internet-based E-Verify system, which uses Social Security Administration (SSA) data to determine whether someone is in the country legally.
The bill’s co-sponsors — all Republicans — include Sen. John Boozman of Arkansas, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Sen. Mike Enzi of Wyoming, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia.
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