At about the same time that the Yakima City Council was requiring city contractors to use the federal E-Verify program bills were introduced in the Judiciary Committees in Congress that would to varying degrees also require use of the system.
In a 4-3 decision Yakima City Council voted to require that contractors who do business with the city must verify the legal status of their employees by using the federal E-Verify program. In its testimony before the council AGC of Washington was neutral regarding final passage of the resolution but raised several concerns regarding the implementation process and compliance details should the resolution pass.
With its passage the City of Yakima will for venders and general services contracts over $2500 and public works contracts over $5000 require that “contractors and venders enroll and participate in the E-verify program when hiring their employees and to affirm its enrollment and participation to the City.” AGC of Washington will continue to engage the Council and City as to the implementation and documentation requirements as they formulate the final ordinance/rule. If AGC members have any comments or questions they should contact AGC Central District Manager Dave Kearby 509-454-6064.
Meanwhile and as expected the US House of Representatives Judiciary Committee introduced a bill mandating the use of E-Verify for all employers this week. The Legal Workforce Act sets mandatory phase-in participation to the E-Verify system for all new hires some beginning as early as six months from enactment for employers based on the size of the company. Re-verification of an employer’s existing workforce is an option; however it would be required in certain situations. Currently the E-Verify program is voluntary unless one is a federal contractor.
AGC of America has been in discussions with Committee staff on this legislation and the bill contains many of the priorities AGC feels are needed in a mandatory program. There is no vicarious liability penalties seem reasonable the “knowing” standard remains as a liability standard and there is federal preemption. The federal preemption would allow states localities and municipalities authority over business licensing. The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the bill on June 15 and hopes to have a vote in Committee in the near future.
On the Senate side Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) introduced a bill Wednesday called the Accountability Through Electronic Verification Act. This bill was put together without any input from business groups. Instead of a phase-in based on size all businesses would have to use the system within one year. It also requires certification by the general contractor that a subcontractor is using the E-Verify system.
AGC of America remains a steering committee member of the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition (EWIC) which is dedicated to working on immigration issues with both the Administration and Congress. AGC is viewed by both those in the coalition and on Capitol Hill as a leader in the immigration debate and on how to work with employers on this sensitive issue.
E-Verify is an Internet-based system that compares information from an employees Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification to data from U.S Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration records to confirm employment eligibility.
For more information about the E-Verify issue on the federal level contact Kelly Knott at AGC of America at (202) 547-4685.