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Friday, July 10, 2009


E-Verify Mandated for All Federal Contractors Starting Sept 8


Reprint: Opelika-Auburn News, July 12, 2009 

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano announced on July 8 the Obama Administration’s support for a regulation that will award federal contracts only to employers who use E-Verify to check employee work authorization starting September 8. Secretary Napolitano also announced the Department's intention to rescind the Bush Administration’s Social Security No-Match Rule, which has never been implemented and has been blocked by court order, in favor of the more modern and effective E-Verify system. Napolitano stated: “E-Verify is a smart, simple and effective tool that reflects our continued commitment to working with employers to maintain a legal workforce…Requiring those who seek federal contracts to use this system will create a more reliable and legal workforce. The rule complements our Department’s continued efforts to strengthen immigration law enforcement and protect critical employment opportunities.” It is estimated that 168,000 additional federal contractors will register and begin using E-Verify by the deadline.
E-Verify, which compares information from the Employment Eligibility Verification Form (I-9) against federal government databases to verify workers’ employment eligibility, is a free web-based system operated by DHS in partnership with the Social Security Administration (SSA). The system facilitates compliance with federal immigration laws and helps to deter unauthorized individuals from attempting to work and also helps employers avoid employing unauthorized aliens.

The federal contractor rule extends use of the E-Verify system to covered federal contractors and subcontractors, including those who receive American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds. The Administration will push ahead with full implementation of the rule, which will apply to federal solicitations and contract awards Government-wide starting on September 8, 2009. On average, 1000 employers sign up for E-Verify each week, totaling more than 134,000 employers representing more than half a million locations nationwide finding that 96.9 percent of all queries run through E-Verify are automatically confirmed work-authorized within 24 hours.

In May 2008, DHS added access to naturalization database records which increased the program’s ability to automatically verify naturalized citizens’ status, reducing citizenship-related mismatches by 39 percent. Additionally, in February 2009, the agency incorporated Department of State passport data in the E-Verify process to reduce mismatches among foreign-born citizens. Other initiatives underway will bring further improvements to Federal database accuracy; add new tools to prevent fraud, misuse, and discrimination; strengthen training, monitoring, and compliance; and enhance privacy protections.

Practical Counsel:
· Sign up for E-Verify ASAP at www.dhs.gov whether you are a federal contractor or not (it is an employer’s only get out of jail card with ICE);
· Schedule I-9 Supervisor Training because the E-Verify system is only as good as the information collected on your I-9 forms;
· Put an E-Verify policy in your employee handbook;
· Make sure you are using the latest version of Form 1-9; and
· Work with your industry association for compliance training.

Tommy Eden is a Lee County native, an attorney with the local office of Constangy, Brooks & Smith, LLP and a member of the ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law and serves on the Board of Directors for the East Alabama SHRM Chapter. He can be contacted at teden@constangy.com or 334-246-2901. Blog at www.alabamaatwork.com