E-Verify Provokes Controversy
The Department of Homeland Security’s plan to expand the E-Verify online work authorization verification program to all federal contractors has led to controversy.
Randy Johnson, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Vice President for Labor, Immigration, and Employee Benefits, told Federal News Radio that “[i]f they go forward with the final rule and don’t respond to our concerns, I think very well we’ll go into court. I think there’s a good chance we’ll go into court anyway[ ] because…the Congressional statute actually says that the program is voluntary and, in our view, making it a condition of a federal contract, in fact, renders it mandatory in violation of the underlying Congressional statute.” He said the expansion was “too quick” and untested, noting that “frankly, there’s some legal problems with regard to whether or not the agencies even have the legal authority to do it.”
Mr. Johnson said the Government Accountability Office needs to study E-Verify further. He noted that some companies “are concerned about this regulation because of immigration concerns, but then there’s another raft of companies, such as major contractors who are household names, that are concerned about it because it’s just going to slow down the procurement process and already make it more complicated.” He noted that colleges and universities that have federal contracts also have raised concerns.
Jennifer Kerber, Senior Director of ITAA’s Federal and Homeland Security Programs, told Federal News Radio that ITAA would welcome E-Verify but is concerned about “the scalability of the system, the accuracy of the underlying data and the increased burden on federal contractors and government agencies.” She noted that “today, according to the E-Verify system officials, there’s an eight percent no-match rate. So, you take eight percent for 61,000 people using it [now], and you put eight percent on 7.4 million people using it [if it becomes mandatory] — what kind of increased delays in government contract performance are we going to have?”
The Department of Homeland Security plans to offer a half-day information session on the E-Verify program. The session will include a live demonstration of the E-Verify system followed by a question-and-answer session. Dates and times have not yet been announced.