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Q. & A. Holding Employers Accountable

June 30, 2011
Dysart Reporter


Senator Charles Grassley

Q. How can employers ensure their workers have legal work authorizations?

A. Employing immigrants who do not have proper documentation to work in the United States is illegal. And, with a sophisticated, counterfeit document only a computer click away, it's often difficult for employers to detect if the proper documentation is provided. So, in 1996 Congress authorized the creation of a free web-based program for employers to use that would verify the work eligibility of new employees. Employers in five states were allowed to participate in the program on a voluntary basis. The program, now called E-Verify, was reauthorized in 2001, was expanded in 2003 to allow employers in all 50 states to voluntarily participate, and was reauthorized again in 2008. E-Verify is currently used by 269,913 employers, including me. I use E-Verify when I hire employees in my offices in Iowa and Washington, D.C.

Q. Doesn't it make sense for all employers to use E-Verify?

A. I've introduced legislation that would improve and expand the current E-Verify program. It's part of my efforts to ensure that Americans and legal immigrants are the first in line for job openings and hold employers accountable for hiring illegal immigrants. My legislation, the Accountability through Electronic Verification Act, would require all employers to check the work authorization of each of their employees through E-Verify. My bill also clarifies that federal contractors and the federal government (executive and legislative branches) must use the program. And, the bill increases penalties for employers who don't use the system or illegally hire undocumented workers, while reducing the liability that employers may face if they do participate in E-Verify. In addition, for workers found to illegally possess fraudulent documentation, my legislation amends the criminal code to make clear that defendants can be charged with aggravated identity theft without having to prove they knowingly stole someone's identity information.

Q. How do you make sure that the system is accurate?

A. Since the system was created, improvements have been made to significantly decrease error rates. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has implemented an appeal process, created a self-check option for people to make sure their information is correct before applying for a job, and provided a photo-tool capability to improve the ability of employers to determine if the employee and the photo match. To improve the system even further, my bill requires the Social Security Administration to develop algorithms to detect anomalies such as when the same Social Security number is used multiple times.

Q. Why do these changes need to be made?

A. Jobs are the number one magnet for immigrants who illegally come to the United States. By holding employers accountable for hiring people without work authorization, it will help stem the flow of illegal immigrants into this country and help ensure that jobs are available for Americans and legal immigrants.



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