Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutionsby Senator Chuck Grassley
Posted on 2013-01-31
GRASSLEY (for himself, Mr. Boozman, Mr. Corker, Mr.
Johanns, Mr. Lee, Mr. Sessions, Mr. Vitter, Mr. Wicker, Mrs.
Fischer, Mr. Hatch, and Mr. Enzi):
S. 202. A bill to expand the use of E-Verify, to hold employers
accountable, and for other purposes; to the Committee on the Judiciary.
Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, today, along with several colleagues, I am introducing legislation to permanently authorize and expand the E- Verify program. My bill, the Accountability Through Electronic Verification Act, wil1 be a tool for employers who want a legal workforce and it will enhance our ability to hold employers accountable for their hiring practices.
Known as the Basic Pilot Program, E-Verify currently provides employers with a simple, web-based tool to verify the work eligibility of new hires. In 1986, Congress made it unlawful for employers to knowingly hire or employ aliens not eligible to work in the United States. Under current law, if the documents provided by an employee reasonably appear on their face to be genuine, the employer has met its obligation to review the worker's documents.
Because identity theft and counterfeit documents became a thriving industry after the 1986 bill, Congress looked to create a program to help employers verify the work eligibility of its new hires. We created the Basic Pilot Program in 1996. Employers in this program can electronically verify a new hires' employment authorization by checking data of employees with records maintained by the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration.
Currently, the E-Verify program is voluntary and free for all employers to use. It is a proven tool in combating illegal immigration. Today, I am proposing that the program be a staple in every workplace so that American workers are on a level playing field with cheaper foreign labor.
My legislation would increase penalties on employers who continue to hire people unauthorized to work in the country. Employers would be required to check the status of current employees within 3 years, and would allow employers to run a check prior to offering a job, saving that employer valuable time and resources. Employers will also be required to re-check those workers whose authorization is about to expire, such as those who come to the United States on temporary visas.
My bill also addresses identity theft concerns. The Social Security Administration would be required to develop algorithm technology that would flag social security numbers that are being used more than once. For those who find themselves victim of identity theft, this bill would amend the criminal code to clarify identity fraud is punishable regardless if the defendant did not have knowledge of the victim. This provision stems from the 2009 Supreme Court decision holding that identity theft requires proof that an individual knew the number being used belonged to an actual person.
While everyone may not agree with every aspect of this bill, it serves as a starting point for a much-needed conversation about worksite enforcement. The President and many members in Congress are going to make it a priority to pass an immigration reform bill this year. We need to act. We need change. We need a better system in place for future generations.
Part of the discussion on immigration will be on a reliable employment verification program. People back home want employers to be held accountable. And, employers want to be responsible. People want to see our government do more to reduce the magnet for people to cross our borders illegally. We must take this opportunity to make sure that employers are abiding by, and able to abide by, the rules. Let us give them the tools they need to do that. I hope more colleagues will join me in my effort to achieve accountability through electronic verification and by making E-Verify a permanent program.
[[Page S444]] ______ By Ms. COLLINS (for herself and Mr. King): S. 206. A bill to expand the HUBZone program for communities affected by base realignment and closure, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.