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Accountability Through Electronic Verification Act


JUNE 2011


Accountability Through Electronic Verification Act (S.1196)


The Accountability Through Electronic Verification Act (S.1196) was introduced in the U.S. Senate on June 14, 2011, by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA). The bill mandates the use of an electronic employment eligibility verification system (EEVS) by every employer in the U.S.1 Below is a summary of its key provisions.

  • Mandatory after one year for all employers. One year after the bill is enacted, all U.S. employers would be required to use an E-Verify–type EEVS to verify the employment eligibility of all new hires, recruits, and referrals. The secretary of the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) would be authorized to require employers to participate earlier if there is reasonable cause to believe they had engaged in material immigration violations related to the hiring and employing of unauthorized workers. Federal government agencies, departments, congressional offices, and federal contractors would be required to participate in the EEVS immediately.

  • Mandatory after 30 days for employers “critical” to national security needs. The bill would require all employers, including entire classes of employers, designated by the DHS secretary as critical to national security interests to participate in the EEVS within 30 days of being designated as “critical” by the secretary. The secretary’s designation of such critical employers and classes of employers would have to be published within 7 days of the bill’s enactment.

  • Reverification of current workers’ employment eligibility. The bill would require reverification of the existing workforce’s employment eligibility within 3 years of enactment. Employers would also be required to reverify workers within 3 days of the expiration of their employment authorization.

  • Immediate termination of workers following final nonconfirmation. Employers who received a final nonconfirmation through the EEVS regarding a worker would be required to immediately terminate the worker’s employment, recruitment, or referral. Except in the case of a worker’s consenting to the use of the EEVS before hiring, the employer would not be required either to provide the individual with written notification of the nonconfirmation, to allow the individual to contest the nonconfirmation, or to refrain from taking adverse action against the worker for choosing to contest the nonconfirmation.

  • No remedies for workers. If a worker were fired due to an EEVS error, he or she would have no avenue whereby to contest the erroneous finding or receive back wages for lost time at work. Neither would there be penalties that could be imposed on employers who used the EEVS to take adverse action against workers.

  • Employer penalties. The bill would increase employer penalties for knowingly hiring, recruiting, referring, or employing unauthorized workers and for engaging in a pattern or practice of violations. It would also permit the DHS secretary to have an employer who is a repeat violator or who was convicted for employing unauthorized workers considered for debarment from receipt of federal contracts and would amend the federal criminal code regarding identity fraud.

  • Employer safe harbor. The bill would allow for civil fines (for violations) to be waived or reduced if the employer established that it had acted in good faith. Employers also would not be liable under federal, state, or local law for wrongful termination of a worker if the employer acted in good faith reliance on information provided through the EEVS.

  • Small Business Demonstration Program. The bill would require U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to establish, within 9 months of enactment, a program to assist small businesses in rural areas or areas with limited Internet access in using the EEVS through public Internet terminals.

  • Preemption. The bill would preempt states and localities from prohibiting an employer from using the EEVS for new hires or current employees.

  • Interagency information sharing. USCIS would be required to report personal identifying information of individuals who receive final nonconfirmation through the EEVS to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) each week, so that the DHS secretary could use the information to enforce immigration law. The bill would require that the Social Security Administration, DHS, and the Treasury Department create an information-sharing program to assist in the identification of unauthorized immigrants.

  • Funded by unobligated funds from other federal agencies. The mandatory EEVS would be funded by rescinding the amount necessary for the program’s operation from unobligated funds appropriated for discretionary purposes from other agencies, starting with DHS. A select few departments and agencies would be excluded from having unobligated funds rescinded for this purpose. The Office of Management and Budget would be required to identify and report the amount of funding necessary and the accounts identified for rescission in a report to Congress within 60 days of the bill’s enactment.

  • Changes to I-9 verification called for. The bill would require DHS to report to Congress within 9 months of enactment recommendations for modifying and for eliminating the current process for verifying employment eligibility that relies on the I-9 form.

1 For more information about E-Verify, the mostly voluntary EEVS that the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security currently operates, see Facts About E-Verify (National Immigration Law Center, Feb. 2011).

Tyler Moran, policy director | moran[at]nilc[dot]org | 208.333.1424