Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley introduced legislation on Thursday requiring all employers to confirm the legality of their employees through E-Verify.
“E-Verify will safeguard opportunities for legal workers and give employers a reliable tool to have a legal workforce,” Grassley, the ranking member on the Senate judiciary committee, said in a statement.
Should Grassley’s Accountability Through Electronic Verification Act of 2013 pass, the program would be instituted permanently and be made mandatory for all employers within one year of its enactment.
It would also increase the penalty for employers who hire undocumented workers, and require employers to check the status of all current employees and new hires within three years.
Currently, E-Verify is voluntary program available at no charge to employers who submit information on an employee’s I-9 to the Department of Homeland Security, which coordinates with the Social Security Administration to determine a worker’s legal status.
“With employers using the program on a voluntary basis, E-Verify has already proven its value in helping to enforce immigration laws by giving employers a tool to determine if individuals are eligible to work in the United States,” Grassley said. “And, if we can help stop employers from hiring people here illegally, we can help stem the flow of individuals crossing the border for jobs.”
On a conference call with reporters Wednesday, Grassley said that while he would not get into specifics about the bipartisan immigration reform proposal eight other senators unveiled this week until he sees the actual legislation, he stressed the enforcement of border and employment security first.
“Border security is very important. We’ll probably be able to reach an agreement on that,” he said, according to the Des Moines Register. “Little harder to reach an agreement on E-Verify, but I’m very much in support of that, and I think a lot of people will be. Business people might not, but I think it’s okay to check Social Security numbers. Agricultural workers may be more difficult, but we’ve got to pass something in that area.”
E-Verify has been operational since 1996. It was established as a pilot program in 2001 and expanded to the rest of the nation in 2003, and has been reauthorized three times since. It is currently authorized through 2015 in its current form.
Grassley introduced similar legislation in 2011 that died in committee.