President Bush Signs Executive Order Requiring Federal Contractors to Use E-Verify System to Confirm Work Eligibility and Immigration Status

President Bush has signed an executive order requiring all federal contractors to use the federal E-Verify system to confirm that new hires are eligible to work in the United States.   E-Verify is a Web-based database that will report the status of an employee based on his or her SSN. For more information about using E-Verify  visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' website.  The move is part of the administration’s effort to enforce federal immigration laws in the wake of Congress’s failure to move forward on comprehensive immigration reform legislation. 

Critics of the system claim that it is rife with errors, is misused by employers, and will lead to discrimination against legal workers who are perceived as potential “illegal aliens” (or “undocumented immigrants” if you prefer). As reported in the LA Times today, the administration is claiming that the E-Verify system has been much improved from earlier pilot programs and is now 99.5% accurate.

While the executive order has no legal effect on non-government contractors, mainly are already voluntarily using the system. The existence of the executive order does tend to bolster the argument that using the system is proper and should constitute a safe harbor against any potential fines for “knowingly” employing an illegal alien/undocumented immigrant.

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