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Immigration: Employee Verification

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On April 22, U.S. Representatives Sam Johnson (R-TX) and Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) introduced H.R. 2028, the New Employee Verification Act (NEVA).  This legislation, which is strongly supported by SHRM, would replace the federal government’s current paper-based employer verification process (known as “E-Verify”), with a new, more convenient and reliable electronic system.

In addition to being the moving force behind this proposal, SHRM formed and leads the “HR Initiative for a Legal Workforce” coalition in support of H.R. 2028. 

To view a brief video of Representative Johnson describing the merits of NEVA, click HERE and access the video link for dated “April 23, 2009.”

Representative Giffords (center) with Arizona SHRM Members on Capitol Hill.
Representative Giffords (center) with Arizona SHRM Members on Capitol Hill

Under NEVA, employers would be required to use their state’s “new hire” reporting process (currently utilized for child support enforcement) to begin the new electronic verification process.  This would allow employers to confirm the work eligibility of U.S. citizens and non-citizens in the most appropriate and reliable ways: 

For U.S. citizens, employers would use the Social Security Administration database;

For non-citizens, employers would use the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) database.

H.R. 2028 also would establish a voluntary biometrics option that employers could choose to use in the verification process.  This system would include a standard background check and the collection of a “biometric” characteristic — such as a thumbprint — to secure an employee’s identity and prevent the illegal use a Social Security number, stolen or fraudulently-obtained drivers’ license, or other altered identification documents.

To protect employers from liability, the legislation would provide a safe harbor for the hiring of an undocumented worker whose identity was verified through the system.

Other key advantages of NEVA over the federal government’s E-Verify program include:

Allows all employment verification requirements to be completed electronically, as well eliminates the current Form I-9.

Applies only to newly hired employees and would not require employers to re-verify existing employees, as is required by other bills pending in Congress.

Allows employers to check the employee through the electronic system beginning on the date of hire and ending at the end of the third business day after the employee has reported to work.

Provides that federal immigration law pre-empts any state law with regard to employer fines or sanctions for immigration-related issues, or in requiring employers to verify work status or identity for work authorization purposes.

Requires employers to be responsible only for the hiring decisions of their own employees, not those of their subcontractors.

NEVA could be considered by the Congress later this year in the context of comprehensive immigration reform legislation – a priority for President Barack Obama.  The President has challenged Members of Congress to address immigration reform this year.

Please take a moment today to encourage your Member of Congress to cosponsor this important bill.  To do so, access SHRM’s HRVoice letter-writing program by clicking HERE, then enter your membership information and access the link entitled, "Co-sponsor H.R. 2028, The New Employment Verification Act."



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The next issue of HR Issues Update will be published on Friday, May 15, 2009.

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