Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) has reintroduced his Legal Workforce Act, H.R. 1147, that would require all employers in the United States to use the E-Verify system within three years. The bill was first introduced during the 112th Session of Congress where it passed through the House Judiciary Committee. Rep. Smith was joined by 12 cosponsors of the legislation.
“The Legal Workforce Act is crucial legislation that puts legal workers first and enjoys broad support with the American public," Rep Smith said in a statement. "It is also free, quick, easy-to-use and effective."
“Almost 20 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed. Meanwhile, seven million people are working in the United States illegally. By expanding the E-Verify system, this bill will ensure that jobs only go to legal workers.”
NumbersUSA president Roy Beck said the bill would "fulfill the promise" to keep U.S. jobs in the hands of American citizens and those legally allowed to work here.
The Legal Workforce Act would at last substantially fulfill the promise of the 1986 amnesty to deny U.S. jobs to foreign citizens who overstay their visitor visas or cross the border illegally. In so doing, historic experience suggests, millions more jobs would both be available and be improved for the American workers and legal immigrants already here who would be recruited and trained to fill them. Most of the jobs opening up for under-employed Americans would be in construction, manufacturing, hospitality and other service occupations in which millions of Americans already are seeking full-time employment.
The Legal Workforce Act would:
- 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 36 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.
The cosponsors include: Reps. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), Ken Calvert (R-Calif.), John Carter (R-Texas), Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), Paul Cook (R-Calif.), Blake Farenthold (R-Texas), Randy Forbes (R-Va.), Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), Steve King (R-Iowa), Tom Marino (R-Pa.) and Chris Smith (R-N.J.).
Updated: Mon, Mar 16th 2015 @ 2:00pm EDT