Miss. Senators Take Action to Help Businesses Comply with Worker Eligibility Laws

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U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., today cosponsored the Accountability Through Electronic Verification Act, which would permanently authorize the E-Verify program and require employers to use the internet–based system to assist them in determining whether current or prospective employees are authorized to work in the United States.

“E-verify is a proven program that should be made mandatory and permanent,” Wicker said. “Over the past 24 years, it has helped employers comply with U.S. immigration laws, stemmed the flow of illegal immigrants looking for work in the U.S., and helped ensure that American jobs are going to legal residents.”

“Mississippi has mandated use of the E-Verify system for many years to verify worker eligibility and ensure that legal workers fill available jobs.  I fully support making the E-Verify program permanent and mandatory in order to support American workers and stop illegal immigration into our nation,” Hyde-Smith said.

U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, introduced the bill, which is cosponsored by Wicker, Hyde-Smith, Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., John Boozman, R-Ark., Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., Tom Cotton, R-Ark., Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., Mike Lee, R-Utah, and John Thune, R-S.D.

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, and has been reauthorized several times since 2008.

The Accountability Through Electronic Verification Act would:

  • Permanently reauthorize the E-Verify program.
  • Make the program mandatory for all employers within one year of date of enactment, require federal contractors and agencies to use the program immediately, and direct “critical employers,” as identified by the Secretary of Homeland Security, to use the system within 30 days of designation.
  • Increase penalties for employers who illegally hire undocumented workers.
  • Reduce the liability that employers face if they participate in E-Verify when it involves the wrongful termination of an individual.
  • Allow employers to use E-Verify before a person is hired if consent is provided by the employee.
  • Require employers to check the status of all current employees within three years.
  • Require employers to terminate the employment of those found unauthorized to work because of a check through E-Verify.
  • Help ensure that the Social Security Administration catches multiple uses of Social Security numbers by requiring it to develop algorithms to detect anomalies.
  • Establish a demonstration project in a rural area or area without internet capabilities to assist small businesses in complying with the participation requirement.
  • Amend 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.
  • Require employers to re-verify an employee’s immigration status if the employment authorization is due to expire.
  • Establish an Employer Compliance Inspection Center (ECIC) within Immigration and Custom Enforcement to streamline program audits and review compliance with worker eligibility laws.

Bill text is available HERE.

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Release from Senator Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith.