The House of Representatives has passed out of committee a bill (H.R. 1772) to mandate E-Verify electronic employment verification for all employers. This bill differs from the E-Verify proposal in the Senate immigration bill, so here’s the breakdown of what it’s in it:
1) Huge fines for employers: The bill cranks up the civil and criminal penalties both for employers who hire “unauthorized” workers and those who fail paperwork or technical requirements, such as E-Verify checks within a 3 day window or correct form filing. For technical errors, the bill increases fines tenfold—increasing the minimum fine to $1,000 per mistake and up to $25,000 per mistake (p. 50). Given the fact that this law can already cost employers up to $1 million for systematic “technical deficiencies,” the new law could result in tens of million in fines for some businesses. At the same time, the bill creates prison sentences for those who refuse to use E-Verify of up to a decade—hard time for a nonviolent offense.
2) Punishments for those employers never even hired illegal immigrants: The House bill would create federal criminal and civil penalties for employers for failing to make E-Verify checks. As in South Carolina where E-Verify is mandatory for many employers, employers would be fined for, as the South Carolina government puts it, “failure to E-Verify a new hire,” not for actually hiring unauthorized immigrants (p. 15). Like the Senate, House Judiciary rejected a proposal made in the Senate by Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) to exempt from penalties employers who never actually hired an unauthorized immigrant, but merely missed an E-Verify check.
3) Americans’ new jobs can be delayed until cleared by E-Verify: This bill also permits employers to make job offers “conditioned on final verification” (p. 20). This means for the 180,000 legal workers who would be initially not confirmed for a job each year (under DHS’s 2012 error rate) could have their jobs delayed weeks or months, losing wages as they attempt to sort out the error at DHS or the Social Security Administration. A four week delay would cost the average U.S. worker $3,200 in lost wages. Many U.S. workers in states that mandate E-Verify use already have their applications thrown in the trash after receiving an initial nonconfirmation—this bill authorizes such behavior.
4) Very aggressive rollout. This bill would mandate E-Verify be used by all U.S. employers within 2 years—this is twice as fast as the Senate immigration bill (S. 744). Such an aggressive rollout imperils U.S. employers because it gives DHS very little time to sort out unforeseeable (and foreseeable) problems that will surely rise. Moreover, it starts its rollout for employers with over 10,000 employees in less than 6 months (p. 21), giving almost no time for regulations to be written and reviewed by lawyers. This is one reason why the legal issues that will cause employers trouble is already causing attorneys to salivate.
5) New forms and technical requirements: House Judiciary Committee Republicans claim that it “repeals the I-9 system” and replaces it with a “completely electronic check.” It does no such thing. It continues the same type of paperwork requirement under the current system (p. 2) and paperwork retention requirement (p. 9). Employers must also record initial nonconfirmation, final nonconfirmation, and confirmation codes on the form correctly or face penalties. It does all this while at the same time increasing fines.
6) Ability for DHS to shut down your right to work if you attempt to work multiple jobs: The House bill would allow the DHS Secretary the authority to “block from use” any Social Security number it deems subject to “unusual multiple use.” This means if someone already held a job and applied for multiple new jobs, DHS could prevent you from working without trial or review “unless the individual using such number is able to establish, through secure and fair additional security procedures, that the individual is the legitimate holder of the number” (p. 58). “No Fly List” meet “No Work List.”