Congress has adjourned for a month-long recess. During this time, lawmakers and many of their staff will work from their respective congressional district and state offices – presenting a unique opportunity for HR practitioners to interact personally with their elected officials. Congress will be in recess until September 9.
The month-long August recess, or District Work Period, gives Members of Congress an opportunity to engage their constituents back at home. Lawmakers and their staff will take the opportunity to host formal meetings with constituents, hold town-hall forums, and attend community events. Members of Congress (specifically in the House) will be particularly visible this August, given the impending House consideration of immigration reform when they return to Washington in September. The August recess will be critical for the fate of immigration reform and House lawmakers will want to hear from their constituents.
Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Cali.), a member of the House ‘Gang of Seven’ negotiating an immigration plan, recently said “August is a perfect opportunity for leaders in Washington to come together as Americans, not as Republicans and Democrats, to explain why it is we believe it is time to fix a broken system on a bipartisan basis. Those conversations [on immigration] hopefully will lead to some joint opportunities between Democrats and Republicans, so when we come back, hopefully we can get it done.”
Many House members have also announced plans to conduct ‘town hall meetings’ during the recess, where they hope to solicit feedback from their respective constituents on immigration reform. These local events, which are usually advertised in local newspapers and listed on the legislator’s Capitol Hill websites (available at http://www.house.gov/representatives/), are free to the public and usually last 60 to 90 minutes in length.
What’s at Stake for the HR profession?
The August recess presents HR constituents an opportunity to meet with House members to discuss immigration reform issues that are specific to the HR profession – most notably Employment Verification and Trusted Employer.
Urge House members to support an Identity Authentication Amendment that would create:
- A fully integrated and electronic verification system. In the 21st century, the employment verification system should keep up with modern employment practices and be fully integrated and electronic.
- Protect against identity theft by providing U.S. employers the option to use a more secure knowledge-based authentication (KBA) system for all of their new hires. The current system is vulnerable to identity theft, as it does not prevent imposters from using fraudulent identity documents for employment verification purposes.
Read the fact sheet on E-Verify and learn more about the SHRM supported Identity Authentication Amendment [pdf]
A Trusted Employer Program
Currently, employers must submit extensive documentation to prove they are a legitimate organization each time they petition for a foreign-born worker, no matter how many times they have submitted the same information (i.e., company description, organizational structure, finances and recurring job classifications). Once they have made their initial application, employers should only have to file this information again when it changes.
Read SHRM and ACIP’s fact sheet on Trusted Employer [pdf]
The Senate passed its version of immigration reform on June 27, which included a number of provisions of relevance to the HR sector. The bill has since been referred to the House chamber for consideration. As the House chamber works on an immigration reform bill, more reforms are needed to protect against identity theft and to assist in hiring high-skilled workers. Read more about the Senate-passed immigration bill. Now is the time for the HR profession to share views on an updated E-Verify and Trusted Employer program.
If at any point you have questions, need guidance and or additional support, please contact SHRM’s Senior Associate of Member Advocacy, Chatrane Birbal at Chatrane.Birbal@shrm.org or 703/535-6476.