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.