Inhofe Joins Effort to Help Businesses Comply with Worker Eligibility Laws

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) joined Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa in reintroducing legislation to help businesses comply with immigration laws by certifying the legal status of their workforce. The Accountability Through Electronic Verification Act would permanently authorize the E-Verify program, an internet–based system that assists employers in determining whether current or prospective employees are authorized to work in the United States. The bill requires employers to use the program to determine workers’ eligibility.

Grassley’s bill is also cosponsored by senators Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), David Perdue (R-Ga.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.). Representative Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) is introducing companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

“Permanently implementing the E-Verify system is an important step towards ensuring our borders are secure and ensuring compliance with our immigration laws. We cannot continue to allow illegal immigrants to be incentivized to come to the United States without going through the legal process. This disadvantages Oklahomans and those who have immigrated here legally. This is not a new issue and, after years of advocacy, it is disappointing that we still don’t have mandatory immigration verification for employment. I am proud to be an original cosponsor of Sen. Grassley’s bill today. We must work to bring logical solutions to disincentivize illegal immigration and make America safer and more secure,” Inhofe said.

“Businesses across the country have opted to use the E-Verify system to help them comply with our immigration laws. 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 said.

“E-Verify is one of the most effective tools we have in our tool kit for deterring illegal immigration. Businesses across Tennessee and the United States use the E-Verify program to ensure they are complying with immigration laws. This commonsense program should be made permanent and mandatory. This legislation will make it easier for employers to verify the legal status of the employees they hire,” Blackburn said.

“E-Verify is a commonsense, cost-effective tool that provides employers with confidence during the hiring process while holding bad actors accountable when they try to cheat the system. It has a proven track record of success and should be permanently reauthorized and made mandatory for employers,” Boozman said.

“E-Verify has proven to be an effective tool both for employers and workers, helping businesses comply with our immigration laws and helping individuals secure good-paying jobs. I’m proud to again join with my colleagues in an effort to improve the hiring process across the country through this legislation,” Capito said.

“E-Verify is a proven system that holds employers accountable for hiring authorized workers, not illegal aliens. Permanent, nationwide E-Verify will help us build an economy that works for American citizens, while eliminating a major incentive for illegal aliens to come here in violation of our laws,” Cotton said.

“The effective use of E-Verify would dramatically improve our ability to ensure that businesses are hiring legal workers. This bill would help us to expand the E-Verify program to all U.S. employers and should be a key part of immigration reform. If people who are here illegally can’t get a job, they likely won’t stay, and word of mouth will help discourage others from breaking the law in the future,” Enzi said.

“E-Verify is a proven, cost-effective way to ensure businesses are following our immigration laws and a tool to deter illegal immigration. This bill also recognizes the challenges facing small businesses in terms of using E-Verify by creating a demonstration program to help them better implement this useful tool for their workforce,” Ernst said.

“Filling American jobs with legal workers is important, and the E-Verify system is an effective tool to maintain a legal workforce and reduce unauthorized employment. E-Verify can also help ensure that individuals entering our country illegally aren’t rewarded for breaking the law,” Hyde-Smith said.

“This legislation will ensure that our nation welcomes people to come here legally to work and contribute to our communities and will also reassure American businesses that every person they hire is legally present or an American citizen. It is no secret that our nation’s immigration system is in need of repair, and Congress is exacerbating that problem by failing to take the necessary steps to ensure we promote legal immigration and deter illegal immigration and human trafficking. From science and technology to agriculture and construction, many businesses rely on hard-working immigrants in our economy. The US economy was built on hard work and innovation, including the hard work and innovation of legal immigrants from across the globe. Every business deserves the opportunity to hire the best and to have an efficient system to verify any worker’s legal status; this bill helps accomplish that,” Lankford said.

“The vast majority of illegal immigrants come to this country for one reason: jobs. We are never going to get a handle on our illegal immigration problem until we find a way to prevent businesses from hiring illegal immigrants. The Accountability Through Electronic Verification Act is one way we can make it harder for illegal immigrants to secure the money they came to this country to get,” Lee said.

“E-Verify is one of the most important tools we have to address illegal immigration in our country. It is critical that the E-Verify program becomes mandatory and permanent. I’m proud to work with Senator Grassley and my colleagues in getting this common-sense bill across the finish line,” Perdue said.

“I have been a longtime supporter of E-Verify for the simple reason that it works. Over the past 23 years, this program has provided employers with the best technology available to verify the eligibility of prospective workers. I hope we can make this program permanent and mandatory, as we work to stop unauthorized immigration into the U.S.,” Wicker said.

“Illegal aliens are enticed to come to America in large part by job opportunities. Eliminating illegal aliens’ ability to take jobs and suppress the wages of Americans and lawful immigrants by making E-Verify mandatory nationwide with stiff consequences for violators will drastically reduce illegal immigration and result in self-deportation of illegal aliens already here. I look forward to working with Senator Grassley to advance this crucial America first legislation,” Brooks said.

Currently, employers voluntarily submit information from an employee’s Form I-9 to the Department of Homeland Security through the E-Verify system, which works in partnership with the Social Security Administration to determine worker eligibility. There is no cost for employers to use E-Verify. More than 750,000 businesses use the program today.

E-Verify was established in 1996 as a pilot program with employers in five states allowed to participate. The pilot program was reauthorized in 2001, expanded to employers in every state in 2003 under Grassley-authored legislation and reauthorized several times since 2008. 

The Accountability Through Electronic Verification Act does the following:

  • Permanently reauthorizes the E-Verify program that was created in 1996. 
  • Makes the program mandatory for all employers within one year of date of enactment, requires federal contractors and agencies to use the program immediately, and directs “critical employers,” as identified by the Secretary of Homeland Security, to use the system within 30 days of designation. 
  • Increases penalties for employers who illegally hire undocumented workers.
  • Reduces the liability that employers face if they participate in E-Verify when it involves the wrongful termination of an individual. 
  • Allows employers to use E-Verify before a person is hired if consent is provided by the employee.
  • Requires employers to check the status of all current employees within 3 years. 
  • Requires employers to terminate the employment of those found unauthorized to work due to a check through E-Verify. 
  • Helps ensure that the Social Security Administration catches multiple uses of Social Security numbers by requiring them to develop algorithms to detect anomalies.
  • Establishes a demonstration project in a rural area or area without internet capabilities to assist small businesses in complying with the participation requirement. 
  • Amends the criminal code to make clear that defendants who possess or otherwise use identity information not their own without lawful authority and in the commission of another felony is still punishable for aggravated identity fraud, regardless of the defendant’s “knowledge” of the victim. 
  • Requires employers to re-verify an employee’s immigration status if the employment authorization is due to expire. 
  • Establishes an Employer Compliance Inspection Center (ECIC) within ICE to streamline program audits and review compliance with worker eligibility laws.

 Bill text is available HERE.