Thousands of people come to the United States to find work every year. But in order to do so, many workers come into the country illegally, despite not being eligible for a green card. There has been much discussion on Capitol Hill over the past few years on this issue, and a new immigration law has been proposed that will require employers to verify that their employees are legally permitted to work in the country. California, like many other states, has begun to investigate whether the newly introduced E-verify measures are reasonable.
The E-Verify program is a free internet-based system run through a federal database. It allows employers to verify the citizenship status of potential employees using information from an employment eligibility form filled out by applicants.
Almost 271,500 of the 7 million employers in the United States use the electronic immigration enforcement tool, since it was launched as a pilot in 1997.
San Diego County officials have proposed their own investigation into the program, to determine if it is suitable for them to use during the hiring process. Their county government employs a huge number of people in the area.
Supporters of the system feel that there is an obligation for them to employ people who are legally permitted to work in the United States.
County administrators must report to officials supervising the proposal within three months to determine whether they are able to effectively utilize the E-verify program.
While the E-verify policy has been widely supported, not all policymakers and immigration advocates in California agree. They feel that widespread screening discriminates against employees regardless of their eligibility, in addition to those that are currently navigating their way through the citizenship and naturalization process. There are also concerns that the program could target immigrants who are otherwise law-abiding, as well as penalize employers.
The proposal does not outline how the changes would affect those who are already working in the United States illegally.
Employers and immigrants concerned by the legislative changes may find that an immigration attorney can not only provide the information they need to ease their minds and but also an understanding of the laws affecting them.
Source: San On San Diego, “County moves toward E-Verify system,” Christopher Cadelago, 28 June 2011