E-Verify and H.R. 5515

Jason Morris

SHRM recently had the opportunity to testify in front of the U.S. House Ways and Means subcommittee on Social Security.  I even had the opportunity discuss the Johnson Bill (H.R. 5515) with the SHRM Manager of Public Affiars a few months ago in Boston at the SHRM HR Global Conference.  SHRM is really pushing acceptance of this bill for a myriad of reasons, most notably the level of Non-Confirmations in an admittedly imperfect system.  According to SHRM CEO, Sue Meisinger:

“New Employee Verification Act” (NEVA).  H.R. 5515 would create a new, more secure, accurate, and reliable employment verification system.”

“The employers we represent are fully committed to the hiring of only work-authorized individuals through an effective, efficient electronic employment verification system,” said Meisinger. “We believe effective employment verification is the lynchpin for true immigration reform. We also recognize that the current employment verification system is in need of real reform and is inadequate to meet current and future demands.”

Workforce Management has an interesting take on the debate.  The ‘Father’ of the E-Verify system, Rep. Ken Calvert, R-California called on SHRM to end their negative advertising campaign against E-Verify.  According to Workforce Managment:

At the hearing, Calvert defended his creation, testifying that 92 percent of employees put into the system are immediately approved and less than 1 percent successfully contest a nonconfirmation.

About 61,000 employers voluntarily use E-Verify. The law that established the system expires in November. Calvert has introduced a bill that would reauthorize it and mandate that all 7.4 million employers sign up over a seven-year period.

Most of the input at the hearing came from people who were concerned that such an expansion of E-Verify would overwhelm the Social Security system.

After mulling it over for a couple days, Calvert issued a pointed statement on Thursday.

“While I appreciated the opportunity to testify, it was clear that the hearing, as evidenced by the second witness panel, was slanted against E-Verify,” he said. “The fact remains that E-Verify is the only tool available for employers, who are required to hire a legal workforce, to check the veracity of identification documents presented by a new employee.”

Then the shot across SHRM’s bow: “There are certain interests that simply do not want employment verification. That is why they will denounce E-Verify and assert that there is a perfect system out there somewhere, when in fact there is no perfect system.”

In my opinion they are both right.  Having spent four years in Washington every March lobbying on behalf of our industry I see both points.  employeescreenIQ has written several articles and blogs on this subject.  E-Verify is far from a perfect system.  The database needs a lot of work and verification standards need updating.  The TNC’s (Tentative Non Confirmations) are causing a lot of heartache for various industries.  Personally, I really like H.R. 5515, I think it simplifies the system and makes it easier for organizations to comply.  However, hearing from legislatures in D.C. there is little support for H.R. 5515 and little money allocated to scrap what is in place and create a whole new system.  I think you will see a re-vamp of E-Verify and a more accurate database in the coming years.  I think H.R. 5515 is a great push to make this happen. I have been wrong before so lets wait and see what happens.  I commend SHRM for their efforts, its doing a lot of good on both fronts!

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