Contributed by Jacqueline Lentini McCullough
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced recently that the online service E-Verify, which allows workers to check their own employment eligibility, is now available in all 50 states, Washington D.C., Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands. E-Verify is now available in both English and Spanish, further broadening the scope of the program by making it available to members of the U.S. workforce who are more comfortable reading Spanish-language materials. The program was launched in March 2011, and since then, 67,000 people have used E-Verify’s Self Check system. Self Check was developed together with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA) to allow individuals a way to check their own employment eligibility status, as well as to provide guidance on how to correct DHS and SSA records. With Self Check now available on a national basis, it is anticipated that use of the program by individuals interested in both their employment eligibility status and guidance on how to correct any record discrepancies prior to the hiring process will dramatically increase. For more information on Self Check, please go to www.uscis.gov/selfcheck.
Contributed by Sara Zorich
On May 26, 2011 in a 5-3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld that the Legal Arizona Workers Act of 2007’s mandatory E-Verify provision did not conflict with the Immigration Reform and Control Act (“IRCA”) and that the licensing conditions imposed under the law were not preempted by IRCA or federal law.
The court’s decision gives the green light for other states, whom have not already done so, to pass mandatory E-Verify laws so long as the state law fits within the confines of the federal law. Illinois does not currently require employers to use E-Verify and state legislatures have been resistant to the entire concept. Time will tell, but this decision could prompt the introduction of mandatory E-Verify legislation in many other states.
The Legal Arizona Workers Act of 2007 requires that, after hiring an employee, the employer must verify the employee’s employment eligibility through E-Verify. The court held that the Arizona law did not conflict with federal law because the consequences of not using E-Verify under the Arizona law were the same as under federal law – an employer forfeits an otherwise available rebuttable presumption of compliance with immigration laws. Moreover, the court noted that the Arizona law did not expand the rights of the state since the law expressly prohibits state investigators from attempting to independently make a final determination on whether an alien is authorized to work in the U.S. and mandates that any employment verification be done with the federal government.
Furthermore, the Arizona law instructs courts to suspend or revoke the business licenses of in-state employers that knowingly or intentionally employ unauthorized aliens. The Supreme Court held that this provision was within the state’s authority under IRCA and fit within the IRCA savings clause since it did not impose “civil or criminal sanctions” but instead imposed licensing conditions on businesses operating in Arizona.