Trump administration calls for mandatory E-Verify
The Trump administration's 2018 budget is calling for mandatory nationwide usage of the internet-based E-Verify system to certify an employee's work eligibility in the U.S.
According to a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) brief, the White House is requesting $131.5 million for E-Verify operations and upgrades for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), including investments to expand the E-Verify program and support its compulsory use within three years.
E-Verify allows businesses to check the legal status of workers and terminate anyone who fails to meet eligibility requirements. Under its current iteration, companies submit information reported on an employee's Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 to DHS. E-Verify then reviews Social Security Administration data to determine whether someone is authorized to work in the country.
The program is currently voluntary except for organizations with government contracts and employers that want to take advantage of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) training when hiring foreign graduates of U.S. universities.
As stated in the DHS brief, more than 678,000 employers harness E-Verify, with an average of 1,300 new employers joining the system each week. According to USCIS, employee verification requests reached 34 million in fiscal year 2016.
Whether it becomes mandatory or not, the electronic verification system is not without its critics. While E-Verify is able to identify an employee's name, date of birth and Social Security number, it is still vulnerable to identity theft and fraud, immigration lawyers say. Groups including the Council for Global Immigration (CFGI) advocate for an identity authentication program that runs alongside E-Verify. In such a system, a verification center would ask employees personably identifiable questions such as the model of their first car or a particular street where they lived.
E-Verify was initially established in 1996 as a pilot program in five states. Following reauthorization in 2001, the program was expanded to employers in every state under legislation authored by Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley.
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