Before it adjourned in early October, Congress approved legislation to extend a federal employment verification program. The E-Verify Program, also known as the Basic Pilot Program, allows employers to confirm that employees are eligible to work in the United States.
Currently, employers must file I-9 Forms for each employee, using various identifying documents, such as a driver’s license or Social Security card. The program allows employers to check I-9 data through an automated system linked to the databases of the Social Security Administration and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
The E-Verify Program, which is part of the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform Act, was set to expire September 30. The U.S. House approved a reauthorization bill in early September, and the measure was included in a bill – continuing resolution – to keep the government running through March 6, 2009. House and Senate lawmakers approved the continuing resolution legislation before adjourning ahead of the upcoming elections.
NPPC sought several changes to the program, including ones to create a voluntary biometric – fingerprint, retinal scan – program to help eliminate identity fraud, to cut the number of acceptable work authorization documents from 24 to seven, to allow federal law to preempt state and local laws that prohibit employers from participating in the E-Verify Program and to require DHS and SSA to verify that an applicant’s Social Security number is not being reported by multiple employers at the same time.
Lawmakers are expected to take up comprehensive immigration reform early in the 111th Congress, and reauthorization of the E-Verify Program likely will be part of any immigration reform bill.