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Capitol Hill Update

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On Thursday, April 14, the House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee heard testimony on the Federal government's electronic employment verification program, known as the ‘E-Verify’ system.  The views of the HR profession were shared during the hearing by Austin  Fragomen, chairman of the board of directors of the American Council on International Personnel (ACIP).  SHRM and ACIP co-chair the HR Initiative of a Legal Workforce; a coalition of employers and human resource professionals that seek to improve the current, I-9 paper-based process of employment verification which has been shown to be subject to identity theft. 

“While E-Verify's capability and accuracy have improved immensely in matching a name with a Social Security number, it cannot confirm that the person presenting the document is who he or she claims to be,”  Mr. Fragomen  said.  He told the Subcommittee that currently about 254,000 employers participate in E-Verify, but that number only represents about three percent of the total U.S. employer population.  Mr. Fragomen contended that more employers would likely participate in E-Verify if employers did not remain vulnerable to I-9 enforcement activities even though they use E-Verify in good faith.

“Effective enforcement is only possible with a system that provides employers with certainty and treats employers as partners, not suspects,”  he said.

Currently, E-Verify remains a voluntary, web-based system that employers can use to verify the work authorization status of their employees.  First established as “Basic Pilot” in 1996, the system expires in September 2012 unless Congress acts to extend it.  In recent years, however, a number of states have enacted legislation mandating all or certain employers in the state to use the system. 

SHRM continues to support improvements to the program, such as the addition of a biometric component to combat identity theft, a truly national system that preempts state laws, an a truly electronic system that replaces the paper-based I-9 program. 

You may read Mr. Fragomen’s full testimony HERE.

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