US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano has announced support for a regulation that will award federal contracts only to employers who use the E-Verify system to check employee work authorisation.
E-Verify compares information from the Employment Eligibility Verification Form (I-9) against federal government databases to verify workers’ employment eligibility. It is a free web-based system operated by DHS in partnership with the Social Security Administration (SSA).
The declaration came as the Secretary announced the Department’s intention to rescind the Social Security No-Match Rule, which has never been implemented and has been blocked by court order, in favour of the E-Verify system.
“E-Verify is a smart, simple and effective tool that reflects our continued commitment to working with employers to maintain a legal workforce,” says Secretary Napolitano. “Requiring those who seek federal contracts to use this system will create a more reliable and legal workforce. The rule complements our Department’s continued efforts to strengthen immigration law enforcement and protect critical employment opportunities.
The federal contractor rule extends use of the E-Verify system to covered federal contractors and subcontractors, including those who receive American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds.
According to the DHS, an average of 1000 employers sign up for E-Verify each week, totalling more than 134,000 employers representing more than half a million locations throughout the country.
The DHS says it is continuing to enhance E-Verify in order to guard against errors, enforce compliance, promote proper usage, and enhance security.
Recent E-Verify advancements include new processes to reduce typographical errors and new features to reduce initial mismatches. In May 2008, the DHS added access to naturalisation database records. According to the department, this increased the programme’s ability to automatically verify naturalised citizens’ status, reducing citizenship-related mismatches by 39%. It adds: “In February 2009, the agency incorporated Department of State passport data in the E-Verify process to reduce mismatches among foreign-born citizens. Other initiatives underway will bring further improvements to Federal database accuracy; add new tools to prevent fraud, misuse, and discrimination; strengthen training, monitoring, and compliance; and enhance privacy protections.”