The U.S. District Court in Maryland ruled in favor of an executive order first issued during the Bush Administration that would require all federal government contractors to use E-Verify. The order was delayed once by Pres. Bush and three times by Pres. Obama while they were awaiting the outcome of lawsuits filed by various business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Under the court's ruling, all federal contractors holding contracts of more than $100,000, regardless of size, will be required to use E-Verify, beginning on Sept. 8. Subcontractors will also be subject to the rule if their portion of the contract is more than $3,000. The court rejected all arguments presented by the plaintiffs.
Judge Alexander Williams, Jr. wrote that "the decision to be a government contractor is voluntary" and "no one has a right to be a government contractor."
Last month, the Department of Homeland Security agreed to implement the rule, and it's been backed by the Senate. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) offered an amendment that was adopted to the Homeland Security spending bill that would require all federal contractors to E-Verify on new hires. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) offered another amendment that was also adopted to the same bill that would require federal contractors to use E-Verify on all existing employees as well. Both amendments, however, must make it through a conference committee in the fall that will rectify the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill.
After the court's ruling, U.S. Chamber of Commerce official Robin Conrad said that the Chamber is obviously disappointed with the decision.
"Our concern is the practical impact on employers ... employers will be required to reverify existing employees who work on federal contracts, which has the potential to impact hundreds of thousands of workers."
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) applauded the court's decision.
"There are more than 12 million citizens and legal immigrants unemployed, and even higher-than-average unemployment rates among blacks and U.S.-born Hispanics. It would be wrong to allow jobs that should go to them to go to illegal immigrants instead. I am hopeful that the Chamber will choose not to appeal this decision. The Chamber should stand up for American workers and encourage all its member businesses to enroll in E-Verify."
Updated: Wed, Dec 30th 2009 @ 10:26am EST