Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) has reintroduced his Legal Workforce Act, H.R. 1772, that would require all employers in the United States to use the E-Verify system within three years. The bill was first introduced in the last Congress where it passed through the House Judiciary Committee. Rep. Smith was joined by 21 original cosponsors of the legislation.

"Twenty-two million Americans are still struggling to find full-time employment.  Meanwhile, seven million people work in the U.S. illegally," Rep. Smith said. "These jobs should go to legal workers.

"Illegal workers compete with American workers for jobs and drive down their wages.  The nationwide use of E-Verify could increase wages and open up millions of jobs for unemployed and underemployed Americans. E-Verify will help ensure that jobs are reserved for citizens and legal workers. 

"E-Verify is easy to use and has proved effective at helping employers avoid illegal workers. It takes just a few minutes and immediately confirms 99.7% percent of work-eligible employees." 

Here are details of the bill:

  • Repeals I-9 System:  Repeals the current paper-based I-9 system and replaces it with a completely electronic work eligibility check, bringing the process into the 21st century. 
  • Gradual Phase-In:  Phases-in mandatory E-Verify participation for new hires in six month increments beginning on the date of enactment.  Within six months of enactment, businesses having more than 10,000 employees are required to use E-Verify.  Within 12 months of enactment, businesses having 500 to 9,999 employees are required to use E-Verify.  Eighteen months after enactment, businesses having 20 to 499 employees must use E-Verify.  And 24 months after enactment, businesses having 1 to 19 employees must use E-Verify. 
  • Agriculture:  Requires that employees performing "agricultural labor or services" are only subject to an E-Verify check within 24 months of the date of enactment. 
  • States as Partners:  Preempts duplicative state laws mandating E-Verify use but retains the ability of states and localities to condition business licenses on the requirement that the employer use E-Verify in good faith under federal law. In addition, the bill allows states to enforce the federal E-Verify requirement and incentives them to do so by letting them keep the fines they recover from employers who violate the law.
  • Protects Against Identity Theft: The bill allows individuals to lock their Social Security number (SSN) so that it can't be used by another person to get a job.  It also allows parents or legal guardians to lock the SSN of their minor child.  And if a SSN shows unusual multiple use, DHS is required to lock the SSN and alert the owner that their personal information may have been compromised.
  • Safe Harbor:  Grants employers safe harbor from prosecution if they use the E-Verify program in good faith, and through no fault of theirs, receive an incorrect eligibility confirmation.     

Original cosponsors include Reps. Goodlatte (R-Va.), Gowdy (R-S.C.), Bishop (R-Utah), Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Burgess (R-Texas), Calvert (R-Calif.), Chaffetz (R-Utah), DeFazio (D-Ore.), Farenthold (R-Texas), Forbes (R-Va.), Franks (R-Ariz.), Holding (R-N.C.), Issa (R-Calif.), King (R-N.Y.), Labrador (R-Idaho), Lance (R-N.J.), Poe (R-Texas), Royce (R-Calif.), Schweikert (R-Ariz.), Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), Stivers (R-Ohio), and Westmoreland (R-Ga.).


Updated: Mon, Mar 2nd 2015 @ 2:05pm EST