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Immigration Reform

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The push for comprehensive immigration reform begins in earnest this month in Congress - and SHRM has already positioned itself to be a key player. The Society continues to advocate that the most critical element for true reform is an effective, efficient system to verify work eligibility.

Last week, SHRM President and CEO Sue Meisinger published an opinion essay in The Hill newspaper, a popular publication on Capitol Hill. [ Click here for article.] As the founding leader of the "HR Initiative for a Legal Workforce" coalition, SHRM also submitted a statement by Meisinger to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security and International Law. [ Click here for statement.]

Both the essay and statement to Congress highlighted HR professionals' principles for an effective employment verification system. Meisinger stated that the current "document-based system is prone to fraud, forgeries and identity theft, making it difficult, if not impossible, for an employer to differentiate between the legal and illegal worker." Further she called on Congress to transform the current paper-based verification process into a state-of-the-art electronic system that meets the following principles:

Principle 1: Shared Responsibility Among Government, Employers and Employees U.S. employers, employees and the federal government share responsibility for a reliable, efficient, accurate system to verify employment eligibility.

Principle 2: Fair EnforcementU.S. employers should be liable for their own hiring decisions, not those made outside their control.

Principle 3: Accuracy and Reliability Employers should not be forced to participate until the government provides assurances that the system is accurate and reliable.

Principle 4: Ease of Use The new verification system should be easy to understand and to implement at all worksites.

Principle 5: Deployment of Latest TechnologiesA new verification system must make false documents and identity theft ineffective. One way to achieve effective and efficient worksite enforcement is to include biometric identifiers or other state-of-the-art technology in the identity and work authorization process that is capable of automatically recognizing an individual's identity.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has announced that comprehensive immigration reform will be considered on the floor of the Senate the last two weeks of May. To learn more about SHRM's efforts on the immigration issue, please visit the HR Initiative for a Legal Workforce website at


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