U.S. Chamber of Commerce Challenges Legality of E-Verify Requirement for Federal Contractors
Under new regulations, federal contractors and subcontractors will be required to begin using the E-Verify online work authorization verification system starting January 15, 2009. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce filed a lawsuit on December 23, 2008, against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that challenges the legality of that requirement.
Joining the Chamber as co-plaintiffs in the lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, were the Associated Builders and Contractors, the Society for Human Resources Management, the American Council on International Personnel, and the HR Policy Association.
Robin Conrad, executive vice president of the National Chamber Litigation Center (NCLC), the Chamber’s public policy law firm, said, “the Administration can’t use an Executive Order to circumvent federal immigration and procurement laws. Federal law explicitly prohibits the secretary of Homeland Security from making E-Verify mandatory or from using it to reauthorize the existing workforce.”
The Chamber’s lawsuit challenges the government’s use of an Executive Order coupled with federal procurement law to make E-Verify mandatory for federal contractors with projects exceeding $100,000 and for subcontractors with projects exceeding $3,000. The Chamber also challenged expanding E-Verify to require the reauthorization of existing workers.
“The DHS intends to expand E-Verify on an unprecedented scale in a very short timeframe, and to impose liability on government contractors who are unable to comply,” said Randy Johnson, vice president of Labor, Immigration and Employee Benefits at the Chamber. “Given the current economy, now is not the time to add more bureaucracy and billions of dollars in compliance costs to America’s businesses.”
The Chamber is the world’s largest business federation, representing more than 3 million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region. The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), among others, applauded the Chamber’s challenge. Charles H. Kuck, president of AILA, noted, “The idea of using an Executive Order to go beyond clear federal immigration and procurement laws and to impose liability on government contractors who are unable to comply is simply misguided and unlawful.”