It’s finally here.  The Gang of 8 introduced a comphrehensive immigration reform bill this week, the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act” (S. 744).  Here are some key items to note:

  • The bill is controversial and for the most part, everyone seems to be complaining about it. 
  • The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold hearings on the bill tomorrow and Monday.
  • The Senate Judiciary Committee expects to hold a mark-up of the legislation in May, and assuming it is voted out of Committee favorably, it could see floor action in June.
  • The House of Representatives may/may not introduce its own measure as they are certainly work on their own measure.
  • The bill covers the following major areas: Border Security, Legalization, Interior Enforcement, Reforms to Non immigrant Temporary Visa Programs).

As an employer I would be reading many sections but one I will highlight here includes the interior enforcement provisions and the section entitled “Employment Verification System”.  I”m looking at the fact that the legislation mandates use of E-Verify by employers over a period of time.  Good news is that it pre-empts state or local laws, ordinances, policies or rules relating to the “hiring, continued employment, or status verification for employment eligibility” of undocumented individuals.  However, it does allow a state or locality to continue to exercise its authority over business licensing and similar laws as a penalty for failure to use E-Verify.  Which means that if this bill becomes law, your business license will be tied to your use of E-Verify.

Use of E-Verify, or the Employment Verification System as the bill calls it, will be rolled out as follows:

  • Employers in critical infrastructure — one year after publishing of the regulations to implement the relevant section in the law, the government will be able to mandate use by such employers;
  • Employers with 5,000+ employees must participate two years after the publishing of regulations;
  • Employers with 500+ employees must participate three years after the publishing of regulations; and,
  • All other employers must participate within four years after the publishing of regulations.

In a twist, the E-Verify mandate covers use by employers of the system for new hires as well as current employees with temporary work authorization which expires.  The latter would be a new requirement as presently E-Verify is only for new hires and in limited circumstances, such as for federal contractors only, it applies to existing employees.

This is a massive bill — 844 pages to be exact — and therefore stay tuned as I review other sections and share those with you.  For now remain calm and carry on.