D.A. King: E-Verify law leaves plenty of room for improvement – Georgia No. 1 With E-Verify to Help Ensure a Legal Workforce by Phil Kent
Insider Advantage Georgia
April 13, 2016
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services this week released E-Verify statistics showing that Georgia is the top state in the nation that uses the no-cost federal government program. It reports that 82,046 employers participate in the E-Verify system that allows businesses to check the legal work eligibility of new employees.
A main reason Georgia is a leader stems from laws passed by the General Assembly in recent years mandating employer usage– especially the Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011 ( H.B. 87 ).
H.B. 87 requires every private employer with more than 10 full-time employees ( 35 hours per week or more) to use the federal electronic database to verify the eligibility of newly-hired employees. As of July 2007, all public employers and their contractors had to use E-Verify regardless of the number of employees. (Enforcement of E-Verify rules and regulations and the crime of knowingly hiring an illegal immigrant rests with the federal government.) Contractors of any level found not using E-Verify can be prohibited into entering a public contract for 12 months, a penalty that is obviously a big deterrent for illegal aliens to take a job in Georgia.
The USCIS website lays out state-by-state totals for E-Verify’s memorandum of understanding — the legal document that must be signed by employers before enrolling in the program — and provides data on E-Verify’s top 20 industries nationwide as of March 31.
The program’s top industry, with 100,034 enrollments, is professional, scientific and technical services. That is followed by specialty trade contractors.
In a related statement, the USCIS warns employers that electronic re-verification isn’t barred by any law and explains that, to re-verify a worker, a company would need to update an existing E-Verify case no later than three days after the employee’s work authorization has expired.
Experts point to the need to tighten Georgia’s job-protection law. “If the goal really is to safeguard jobs for eligible workers, there is a great deal of room for improvement in our E-Verify law” says D.A. King of the Dustin Inman Society. King, who helped create HB 87, offered an example. “When it was clear to its opponents that HB 87 was going to pass, the powerful agriculture lobby added a clause that says the number of employees that count toward the threshold for required use of E-Verify is determined on January 1st of each year. Most growers have few employees in the dead of winter. By June 1st, the date we originally wanted to use, the number of employees obviously increases greatly. To watch a parade of Ag lobbyists squeal in Capitol committee rooms, all any determined lawmaker need do is to try to change the date employees are counted,” says King.