E-Verify, a government web-based system that helps employers verify a workers legal status, has been in the news before.
Originally a George W Bush executive order, E-Verify was slated to become mandatory for federal contractors beginning January 15, 2009. The change in executive administrations and a handful of lawsuits, however, pushed the requirement back indefinitely.
This week, the Obama administration chimed in on the subject, and announced that it would support the E-Verify requirement, and that it would take effect across the country starting September 8, 2009. Appropriately, the day after Labor Day.
Any federal projects or businesses receiving money under the federal stimulus program will be subject to the rule, and required to register and use the E-Verify system.
Differences Between Obama E-Verify and Bush E-Verify
When comparing the Obama E-Verify requirement and the Bush E-Verify requirement, one difference stands out: Obama has ditched the “No-Match” system.
As a result, for better or worse, the requirement going into effect this September will have substantially less teeth.
Ditching the “No-Match” component of the E-Verify requirement will benefit employers because they will not be required to terminate (on such a tight time-line) employees whose social security numbers do not match with the system.
It will benefit workers, too, because Obama will not allow the federal government to use mismatched SSN data to find illegal immigrants in the workplace.
Is It Really Going To Happen This Time?
The short answer: Yes.
While it has been delayed repeatedly in the past year, and there’s always a possibility for more delay, it looks like the latest effective date will stick.
The Obama administration has reviewed the requirement, and is now standing behind it, and by ditching the most controversial aspects of the rule, there will be fewer legal and political challenges.
Beginning September 8, 2009, therefore, the government will award contracts only to companies in compliance.
Who Needs to Be Prepared?
A lot of people need to be prepared for this E-Verify requirement.
While the controversial components of the requirement have been removed by Obama, the scope of the rules applicability has actually gotten broader. The requirement will not only apply to contractors and subcontractors on federal projects, but it will also apply to any business receiving money under the federal stimulus project.
With the influx in federal and state spending on construction projects, and the decrease in private work available, more and more contractors are being forced into bidding and working on public works. And with the now wider reach of the E-Verify program, contractors and subcontractors need to prepare themselves.
In February 2009, we wrote a post here at the Construction Law Monitor titled “The Stimulus Package and Your Construction Business.”
The post discussed the differences between private and public works, and addressed some of the issues private contractors face when working on its first public project.
Add the new E-Verify requirement to the list, and the article is still a good read.
Is this Still Controversial?
Even with Obama’s backing of the system and some tweaks to its enforcement power, the E-Verify program definitely still has its detractors.
The San Bernardino Sun News just ran an article about how the E-Verify system puts Obama at odds with some democrats.
Despite the controversy, the E-Verify requirement will take effect on September 8th, and construction companies around the country must be prepared.