Most of the immigrants in the United States do work, including some who are present without inspection, and sometimes it can be a bit of a balancing act between immigration law and employment anti-discrimination provisions for employers. Conversely, an employer may try too hard to abide by immigration regulations and comply with E-Verify regulations, and wind up breaching an employee’s rights. Having at least a basic understanding of the whole picture can help clarify matters for you so that you can take appropriate measures if you feel your rights have been infringed.
What Is E-Verify?
E-Verify is a program instituted in 1996 that allows businesses to test whether their workers are in valid immigration status upon hiring (it is not permitted by law to test workers after their hiring date). The program compares the data from an employee’s I-9 form, the Employment Eligibility Verification Form, to the national database. If the information matches, the employee is deemed eligible to work. If not, the employer will be alerted and the employee will either have to sort out the error, or they will be treated as having committed an immigration violation.
E-Verify is utilized somewhat differently by every state, with many requiring it, while others actively discourage its use due to perceived bias and errors in the databases used to compare records. It is remarkable, however, that the states whose use is infrequent are not those one might think. Texas and Florida both have significant undocumented populations, with the accompanying amount of anti-immigrant sentiment, but less than one-third of new hires are screened with E-Verify. Illinois actually attempted to ban the program’s use in 2007, though the law was eventually struck down. The modified law permits the use of E-Verify, but does not encourage it, and requires a sworn statement that the employer has gone through training on the program’s potential issues....