Capito, colleagues reintroduce bill to help businesses comply with worker eligibility laws

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WOAY) – U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) joined Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and several other colleagues to reintroduce 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 and expand 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.

In addition to Senators Capito and Grassley, The Accountability Through Electronic Verification Act is cosponsored by Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), John Thune (R-S.D.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).

“E-Verify helps streamline the process between our businesses and immigration laws, creating ease for both our employers and workers. Lowering unemployment and making good-paying jobs accessible is vital to the future success of our state, and I’m happy to support this effort to improve the hiring process in our country. The implementation of this system will foster workplace accountability and prioritize American workers,” Senator Capito said.

Currently, employers voluntarily submit information from an employee’s Form I-9 to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) 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 DHS secretary, 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 three 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.

Full text of the legislation is available here.

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