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E-Verify Due to Expire Sept. 30

    By Roy Maurer 

    The E-Verify employment eligibility verification program will expire on Sept. 30, 2015, unless reauthorized by Congress.

    Adding to the drama, lawmakers return from recess Sept. 8 to a full and contentious docket that includes finding long-term funding for transportation projects, lifting the debt ceiling and enacting a stopgap funding bill, or passing a continuing resolution before the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. Will employers be locked out of E-Verify come Oct. 1?

    “E-Verify will likely be reauthorized … for an additional five years if Congress has its way,” said immigration attorney Ann Cun of the Meyer Law Group, based in San Francisco.

    “No, it won’t expire and it shouldn’t,” agreed Montserrat Miller, a partner at Arnall Golden Gregory, based in Washington, D.C.

    Miller said that negotiations are ongoing to address several programs that expire at the end of September. “When Congress returns they will need to quickly pick this up and it could be part of the continuing resolution. Like last time, I expect they will eke this out in the final days.”

    E-Verify allows employers to electronically verify new hires’ work authorization. More than 400,000 participating employers at nearly 1.2 million worksites nationwide use the program, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. It was last reauthorized in 2012 for a period of three years.

    Miller agreed with Cun that reauthorization will likely be for three to five years.

    “It’s not a perfect system but it certainly has its benefits,” said Cun, who added that it should be renewed until Congress can decide on a more permanent system.

    “E-Verify works. The numbers prove that,” Miller said. “But just because it works, it’s not for every employer, especially if they have a high number of potential undocumented workers.”

    A Different Point of View

    “It’s not at all clear that Congress will act,” said Matthew Hoppock, an immigration attorney and owner of the Hoppock Law Firm based in the Kansas City, Mo., metropolitan area.

    Hoppock believes the government program should sunset. “Hopefully it will, without much fanfare. Aside from the system returning false positives, which has led to U.S. workers being denied jobs because employers incorrectly believed they lacked immigration status, the underlying premise of a big-data solution to employer compliance with verification laws is a serious problem,” he said. “If for no other reason, the massive data breaches at the Office of Personnel Management, where Chinese hackers made off with untold amounts of classified information and data on federal employees, show that the government should not put employers’ and individuals’ information into a massive database like E-Verify without being able to secure it.”

    Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.