Last week, the Federal District Court in Maryland ruled that federal contractors must use the E-Verify system to confirm the eligibility of all newly hired as well as current employees working directly on a federal contract. Unless there is a stay pending the appeal of this order, starting September 8, most federal contracts must include a provision mandating the use of the E-Verify system. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has a website with frequently asked questions dealing with E-Verify. A copy of the court's decision can be found here.
E-Verify is also having an impact on the state of Alabama. Effective January 1, 2010, the city of Huntsville will require any city contractor to use the E-Verify system to screen employees. According to the Huntsville Times, Councilman Bill Kling "called it a "very modest proposal" to try to deter illegal immigration in a way that won't get the city sued." Huntsville's new E-Verify requirement applies to any vendor with a city contract that totals $15,000 or more.
Last week, at our regularly scheduled employment law seminar, Kelli Robinson spoke on how to conduct an I-9 audit. She pointed out that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) launched an audit initiative in July by issuing Notice of Inspection to 652 businesses. This is more notices than ICE issued in all of 2008. With ICE data mining the E-Verify database to determine if employers are using the system to verify all workers and terminate those after receipt of final non-confirmation of work authorization, there may be more audits coming in the near future. ICE is also using the information to detect identity theft, where the same social security number or permanent resident card is being used at multiple locations.
Practice Pointer. Now that Huntsville has adopted the use of the E-Verify system, I anticipate that other cities and counties, and maybe even the state, will require contractors to use the E-Verify system to check the legality of their workforce. With the increasing use of the E-Verify system, more audits are likely by ICE for government contractors and others who are required to use the system. Employers should audit their I-9 files to make sure that they are in compliance with immigration laws.