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house Bill H.R. 250

Should There Be a Mandatory E-Verify System to Prevent Unauthorized Immigrants From Being Hired?

Argument in favor

Businesses shouldn’t be allowed to hire unauthorized immigrants because that creates an incentive for further illegal immigration. Creating a mandatory E-Verify system ensures compliance, and phasing it in gradually for various categories of businesses gives employers time to adjust without creating an undue burden.

Argument opposed

Mandatory E-Verify would be expensive, difficult to administer, and harmful to certain groups, including agricultural workers and Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders. This bill would depress working conditions and wages for all Americans and immigrants.

bill Progress

  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
    IntroducedJanuary 4th, 2019

What is House Bill H.R. 250?

This bill, the Legal Workforce Act, would direct the Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) to establish an employment eligibility verification system (EEVS) patterned after the E-Verify system. This would replace the current paper-based I-9 system and replace it with a completely electronic work eligibility check. Use of the E-Verify system would be mandatory but phased-in over 30 months for various business categories, and businesses that knowingly hire unauthorized immigrant workers or fail to use the system would be fined.

This bill would allow employers to condition a job offer on a worker’s final verification by the EEVS — a departure from current law, which requires employers using E-Verify to verify a worker’s employment eligibility after the worker is hired.

During the verification period, an employer would be required to attest, under penalty of perjury, that they’ve verified that an individual isn’t an unauthorized immigrant. Likewise, the individual employee would attest that they’re a U.S. citizen or national, a lawful permanent resident, or a foreign national authorized to work in the U.S.

This bill would establish a phased-in EEVS participation deadline for different categories of employers, including agricultural employers:

  • Within six months of the bill’s enactment, business with over 10,000 employees would be required to use E-Verify;

  • Within 12 months of the bill’s enactment, businesses with 500-9,999 employees would be required to use E-Verify;

  • 18 months after the bill’s enactment, businesses with 20-499 employees would be required to use E-Verify;

  • 24 months after the bill’s enactment, businesses with 1-19 employees would be required to use E-Verify; and

  • 30 months after the bill’s enactment, employees performing agricultural labor or services would be subject to an E-Verify check.

This bill would also require re-verification of certain groups of workers who haven’t been verified under E-Verify. The bill would also allow employers to voluntarily re-verify employees.

Employers would be granted safe harbor from prosecution if they use the E-Verify program in good faith and, through no fault of theirs, receive an incorrect eligibility confirmation. However, employers who knowingly hired or employed unauthorized workers or failed to use the EEVS or knowingly submitted false information to the EEVS would be fined for their actions.

DHS would be responsible for establishing programs to: 1) block the use of misused Social Security Numbers (SSNs); 2) suspend or limit the use of identity fraud victims’ SSNs; and 3) permitting parents or legal guardians to suspect or limit the use of a minor’s SSN or other identifying information. It would also be responsible for establishing at least two Identity Authentication Employment Eligibility Verification pilot programs using distinct technologies to provide employers with identity authentication and employment verification of enrolled new employees.


Workers; employers; unauthorized immigrants; E-Verify; DHS; Social Security Numbers; and identity fraud victims.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 250

When this bill was introduced in 2013, the CBO estimated that implementing it would cost about $635 million over the 2014-2018 period and a similar amount in the subsequent five-year period.

More Information

In-DepthRep. Ken Calvert (R-CA) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to require the use of E-Verify:

“Fixing our broken immigration system is long overdue and requires solutions like the Legal Workforce Act. By requiring the use of E-Verify, we can send a strong and clear message that people looking to come to America to improve their economic outlook must do so legally if they want to work here. We want and need immigrants to come to our nation to contribute to our success, but we must also remain a sovereign nation governed by the rule of law.”

Now-retired Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) introduced this bill in the 115th Congress in order to ensure that workers in the U.S. are authorized to be in the country:

“The Legal Workforce Act saves jobs for American workers at a time when nearly 20 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed. Meanwhile, 7 million people are working in the United States illegally. By expanding the E-Verify system to all U.S. employers, employers will check the work authorization of new employees to ensure that the jobs only go to Americans and legal workers.”

The Essential Worker Immigration Coalition (EWIC) supports this bill, which it argues is critical for verifying all workers’ employment eligibility:

“We want to underscore the need for establishing a workable, reliable and efficient worksite enforcement employment eligibility system. A new E-Verify mandate would impact every business in the United States as well as every employee. It is imperative that this new system function properly and be administered in the proper environment. One of the most important goals for EWIC that is included in the current version of H.R. 3711 is a clarification that federal jurisdiction preempts state and local laws. Business needs one standard to comply with and eliminating the morass of state and local employment verification laws. State, local and municipal immigration laws imposing new rules and regulations are virtually impossible to track and follow. Small businesses are particularly burdened by the myriad of rules and regulations that are currently imposed by non-federal immigration ‘authorities.’... Congress still needs to fix our immigration system to recognize the ongoing need of the American economy for workers when not enough American workers are available, and to separate those who wish to harm our nation from those who wish to help build it. The current system does not work for anyone, and Congress needs to address the issue in a coherent manner that serves both our national security and economic interests. We believe H.R. 3711 is a good starting point. It takes significant steps to achieving EWIC’s goals for an improved E-Verify system.”

When this bill was introduced in 2015, the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) criticized it for being too expensive, ineffective, and harmful to businesses, workers, and taxpayers:

“Rather than offering a comprehensive approach to immigration reform, this bill focuses only on immigration enforcement, failing to provide a road to citizenship for any of the 11 million aspiring citizens living in the U.S. Unfortunately, the bill is an expensive nonsolution. If passed, it would burden employers, workers, and taxpayers… The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that [the bill]... would cost private sector employers over $600 million over three years. But employers should be using their revenue to grow their businesses, hire workers, and help build our economy—not to pay costs imposed by a flawed enforcement program. According to data compiled by Bloomberg, requiring all employers to use E-Verify could cost small businesses $2.6 billion… Requiring employers to use E-Verify will devastate agricultural employers. Over half of the U.S. agricultural labor force is unauthorized… Simply put, E-Verify errors will cause people to lose jobs. If the Legal Workforce Act becomes law, approximately 170,000 to 450,000 U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and work-authorized noncitizens would either have to contact a government agency to correct an E ‘Verify–related error or risk losing their jobs… According to the CBO, enacting the Legal Workforce Act would increase federal budget deficits by $30 billion and cost the federal government—and U.S. taxpayers—over $1 billion to implement.”

The Economic Policy Institute’s Daniel Costa argues that this bill would push down wages and labor standards for Americans and immigrants alike:

“For a number of reasons, E-Verify is not ready for prime time. First, E-Verify’s accuracy rate is simply not good enough. Many authorized workers, including American citizens, would be erroneously flagged as unauthorized if all employers were required to use it. Moreover, Congress has not set up a procedure or process for workers improperly flagged as unauthorized to contest E-Verify findings. Job seekers—including many of the working poor with few resources—would have to visit Social Security Administration and/or Department of Homeland Security offices on their own time and at their own expense to correct an E-Verify error, or else face losing their jobs. And if they lose their job because of a government error, there is no meaningful recourse for them to get reinstated or sue for lost wages. Furthermore, E-Verify should not be expanded nationwide until the 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the United States—including 8 million unauthorized immigrant workers—are legalized. While E-Verify might make sense someday as a policy option to deter future unauthorized migration, without making necessary improvements or coupling it with a broad legalization, it will do much more harm to low-wage workers than good. Many unauthorized immigrants will begin working off of formal payrolls, making it nearly impossible for them to contribute to payroll taxes and the social safety net, or to file successful compensation claims when they are injured on the job. Expanding E-Verify without legalizing the 8 million employed unauthorized immigrants would leave 5 percent of the labor market even more exploitable and vulnerable to retaliation based on immigration status than they already are, putting downward pressure on labor standards for U.S. workers who are employed alongside unauthorized immigrants. E-Verify expansion was considered as part of comprehensive immigration reform in 2013, and shouldn’t be considered again until Congress is ready to consider major reforms to it and couple it with legalization.”

Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC) argues that mandatory E-Verify would disproportionately hurt Asian-American and Pacific Islander workers:

“Asian American authorized workers – including citizens and green card holders – already face a higher risk of being flagged as undocumented by E-Verify than U.S-born workers. Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) and other work-authorized noncitizens receive erroneous E- Verify determinations at much higher rates than U.S. citizens… If E-Verify is made mandatory, a disproportionate number of AAPIs will be wrongly identified and have their jobs jeopardized. Workers falsely flagged as unauthorized to work under proposals such as the Legal Workforce Act are out of luck.”

This bill has 19 cosponsors in the 116th Congress, all of whom are Republicans. In the previous Congress, it passed the House Judiciary Committee by a 20-10 vote with the support of 54 cosponsors, all of whom were Republicans.

Of NoteE-Verify is an electronic verification system, maintained by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, that allows employers to ensure that their workforce is legal.

According to a 2016 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, there’s strong support for a mandatory electronic verification system, with 83 percent of employers in SHRM’s survey indicating their support for such a system.


Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: / brazzo)


Legal Workforce Act

Official Title

To amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to make mandatory and permanent requirements relating to use of an electronic employment eligibility verification system, and for other purposes.