Published on:

House Judiciary Committee Passes the Legal Workforce Act

196716_files.jpgAfter the Senate passed the immigration reform bill, Speaker of the House Representative Boehner stated that the House of Representatives would likely introduce piecemeal immigration legislation as opposed to passing the bill in its entirety. It seems Representative Boehner was correct. Recently, yet another immigration bill has been passed by the House Judiciary Committee. The bill is called the Legal Workforce Act (LWA) and it was introduced by Texas Congressman Mr. Lamar Smith.

The Legal Workforce Act

The LWA seeks to expedite and improve the U.S.’s online employment-verification system. Representative Smith states that he drafted and introduced the bill because he wants to be able to guarantee to his constituents that Congress is putting firm measures into place to discourage and prevent future unauthorized employment by immigrants.

Representative Smith explained on his website that his impetus for introducing the bill was to ensure that there are firm mechanisms in place to discourage future unauthorized immigration. Representative Smith is of the mind that one of the largest motivators of unauthorized immigration is the job prospects offered by the United States. Therefore, in order to concomitantly secure the U.S. border and reserve available jobs for American workers, Representative Smith’s bill will require that all U.S. employers utilize the E-Verify system.

The E-Verify System

U.S. employers use the E-Verify system, which is an Internet-based program, to confirm the identities and work authorization of potential employees. Essentially, the E-Verify system compares the information provided on the Form I-9 by the potential employee, to any information found on U.S. government records about the person. If there is no discrepancy in the information provided, such as a name or date of birth discrepancy, then E-Verify basically confirms that the employee is authorized to work in the United States. However, if the system does find a discrepancy, E-Verify informs the employer about it, and the employee has eight working days to resolve it.

Currently, approximately 450,000 U.S. employers use the E-Verify system when hiring new personnel. According to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) the E-Verify system maintains an accuracy rate of 99.7%. While this accuracy rate is admirable, the system is not equipped to combat identity theft, which occurs when a potential worker provides stolen identity information. Because E-Verify does not use fingerprinting or facial recognition software to confirm the worker’s identity, the system does not know when the individual provides stolen or false identity information – usually in the form of a stolen Social Security Number.

Changes to E-Verify

To address this issue, Representative Smith’s bill provides multiple changes to the E-Verify system. For example, Representative Smith wants potential employees to receive notification from E-Verify if their Social Security Number (SSN) is entered into the system multiple times. Once the employee finds out about the multiple submissions, the employee can confirm that he/she submitted the SSN on each occasion. If the employee confirms he/she did not provide the SSN on each occasion, the employee informs the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA) that the SSN may have been stolen. The DHS and the SSSA would “lock” the SSN, thereby preventing its further use for employment verification purposes.

Similarly, the LWA creates a program that allows parents to also “lock” their children’s SSNs, to help prevent the rising theft of children’s identities.

The Rant

While seemingly well-intentioned, we are skeptical that Representative Smith’s LWA truly seeks to protect workers and U.S. businesses. Many companies find E-Verify to be an administrative burden and yet another time-consuming hurdle to hiring qualified and skilled workers. We will continue to monitor the progression of the LWA, as its passage will greatly increase U.S. employers’ burdens when hiring foreign workers.

More Blog Posts:

USCIS Releases First Volume of Planned Comprehensive Policy Manual, ImmigRantings, February 21, 2013
President’s Inaugural Address Highlights Needs for Reform of Highly-Skilled Immigrant and Work Visa Programs, ImmigRantings, January 28, 2013
New Immigration Developments: The SAFE ACT, ImmigRantings, June 27, 2013