Biz backs E-Verify expansion, with conditions

by Sheryll Poe,,
U.S. Chamber of Commerce

The Chamber’s Randy Johnson explains what E-Verify is and what it means for the business community.

The head of immigration policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce offered conditional support for expansion of the Internet-based system that tracks the legal status of potential employees.

“The E-Verify system is greatly improved and, while not perfect, could be workable with continued technical improvements accompanied by specific, important legislative changes,” the Chamber’s Randy Johnson said during testimony before the House Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee on February 27.

The Chamber had opposed the expansion of E-Verify but reassessed its position in light of improvements to it, its use by federal contractors, and the focus on a more reliable employment verification system as a necessity, as well as a logical prerequisite to further immigration reform, said Johnson, senior vice presiden for Labor, Immigration, and Employee Benefits at the Chamber.

But, Johnson said, the Chamber conditions its support of E-Verify expansion upon six futher improvements: a three-year phase in period; requiring E-Verify only for new hires; safe harbor provisions to protect employers who act in good faith from any liability; integrating the current I-9 employment verification form with E-Verify; preemption over any state or local laws; and the creation of a new agricultural worker visa program before that industry is required to comply with E-Verify.

“Consulting with our members as to whether or how E-Verify should be expanded, we have concluded that the time has come to establish a single, national policy regarding employment verification and the use of E-Verify,” Johnson said. “However, it is vital Congress make the employment verification system and E-Verify work for employers.”

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