New Civil Rights Initiatives for E-Verify

As regular readers of MurthyDotCom are aware, E-Verify is the web-based system that allows employers to determine whether their employees are eligible to work legally in the United States. The system is run by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, in cooperation with the Social Security Administration. Participation is free, and voluntary for most employers; however, the law requires all employers to verify employment authorization for anyone they hire, regardless of the worker’s immigration status.

E-Verify has been controversial in some quarters due to civil rights concerns; many worry that spelling or other ministerial errors in the database can generate false “no match” letters, indicating that the information furnished on an I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification Form does not match the Social Security database. This could cause U.S. citizens to lose their jobs, even though they are legally entitled to work here.

In March, USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas announced three new initiatives to reduce the potential for unintended civil rights problems caused by the E-Verify system. These initiatives include:

•    A new Memorandum of Agreement between USCIS and the Department of Justice (DOJ), Civil Rights Division, establishing a process for referring cases to DOJ’s Civil Rights Division when an employer is alleged to have used E-Verify in a discriminatory manner, or when E-Verify has otherwise been misused, abused, or used fraudulently;

•    A new employee hotline, to respond to employee questions, issues, and complaints about E-Verify. Using an interactive voice response system, employees can choose four options:

o    general information on E-Verify;
o    information on completing Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification);
o    contesting a tentative nonconfirmation (no-match notice) and how to fix possible errors in final no-match notices;
o    filing a complaint regarding employer misuse of E-Verify

•    Training videos for employers and employees, to help each to understand how E-Verify works and what situations they may confront in the employment eligibility verification process. A video aimed at employers explains the rules, policies, and procedures of E-Verify, while stressing the need to protect employee privacy, and a video for employees focuses on worker rights, especially when no-match notices are issued.

The new employee hotline is toll-free, and can be reached at 888-897-7781. Further information on these initiatives, and links to the training videos, are available on the new USCIS official blog, The Beacon. (See: USCIS Announces E-Verify Employee Rights Initiatives, 18.Mar.2010.)

Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.