Judiciary Committee Passes The Legal Workforce Act

1277878_check_list.jpgTexas Congressman Mr. Lamar Smith (R), recently introduced legislation into the House Judiciary Committee. The bill is called the Legal Workforce Act (LWA) and its purpose is to expedite the implementation of employment-verification systems in the United States.

According to Representative Smith, his impetus for introducing the bill is to ensure that there are firm mechanisms in place to discourage future unauthorized immigration and employment. The Congressman believes that one of the largest motivators of unauthorized immigration is the job prospects offered by the United States. In order to concomitantly protect the U.S. border and safeguard available jobs for American workers, Representative Smith's bill will require that all U.S. employers use the E-Verify system.

The E-Verify system is an Internet-based program that allows companies to check the identities and work authorization status of potential employees. To do so, E-Verify compares the employee's information provided on the Form I-9 to any U.S. government records about the person. If there is no discrepancy in the information provided, then the worker is authorized for employment in the United States. However, if there is a discrepancy, E-Verify informs the employer about the data mismatch, the employee has eight working days to resolve the discrepancy.

More than 450,000 companies currently utilize the E-Verify system. According to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) E-Verify's accuracy rate is at 99.7%. However, the system does not have protections against identity theft, which occurs when a worker provides stolen identity information - since E-Verify does not utilize facial or biometric data, the system has no way of knowing that the individual is submitting stolen identity information. The vast majority of stolen identity cases involve stolen Social Security Numbers.

Representative Smith posits that the LWA will address these identity theft issues in multiple ways. One of these ways is for employees to receive notification if their Social Security Number (SSN) is submitted multiple times. Once the employee receives the notification, the employee can confirm whether he/she submitted the SSN each time. If the employee did not, he/she can then inform the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration that the SSN has likely been compromised. These two agencies will then "lock" the SSN, thereby preventing its use for employment purposes for a period of time.

Along this same vein, the LWA would establish a program that allows parents or guardians to similarly "lock" minor children's SSNs, in the effort to prevent the rise in identity theft amongst children.

The bill creates a timeline that would phase in mandatory E-Verify use in increments of six months. It also promises safeguards for employers who use the system in good faith but who inadvertently employ unauthorized foreign workers.

At the Gee Law Firm, our attorneys are available to walk employers through the E-Verify process as well as the sponsorship application for hiring a foreign worker. Contact our office today at 650-293-0270 and speak to a member of our legal team about your case.

Additional Blog Posts
Silicon Valley Employers Must Prepare for I-9 Audits, Silicon Valley Immigration Lawyer Blog, February 18, 2011
Changing Minds About Immigration: UFW's "Take Our Jobs" Campaign, Silicon Valley Immigration Lawyer Blog, July 21, 2010

Employer Compliance, Immigration Reform / by Michelle Gee