Theres news this week that a bipartisan group of senators have unveiled a statement of principles for immigration reform, which in part proposes the creation of an effective employment verification system that prevents identity theft and ends the hiring of future unauthorized workers. Further, President Obama and the White House have released a Fact Sheet containing similar principles, including craking down on employers who hire undocumented workers through:
- mandatory, phased in electronic employment verification
- creation of and required use of fraud-and tamper-resistant documents to prove employees authorization to work
- increased penalties for employers who hire undocumented workers
- protection for workers against retaliation for exercising their labor rights
I am generally not a fan of speculating. When it comes to football games, like the BCS College Football Championship or the upcoming Super Bowl, I dont enjoy commentary about who people think will win. Just play the game already! So, I generally do not like to speculate on how the law might change. Im more of a lets wait and see and then deal with it type of guy.
Neverthess, I cannot help myself from wondering what may be on the horizon for employers and worksite enforcement if comprehensive immigration reform occurs. For example,
- Will all employers be required to use E-Verify? (In Alabama, that already is the law, but my guess is that there still is mass non-compliance and federal law and federal enforcement would change things quite a bit)
- Will there be a new and improved electronic verification system?
- Will increased enforcement and higher penalties apply only to employers who knowingly hire unauthorized workers, or will the employers who just make paperwork mistakes on I-9s also be impacted?
- Will this news further delay the release of the new two-page I-9 form?
- Will employers have to become experts in detecting fraudulent documents as opposed to just making good-faith determinations about their authenticity?
Regardless of whether reform occurs or what it will ultimately entail, I believe the one thing we know for sure is government worksite enforcement is not going to let down, and if anything will increase. So, employers should continue to make immigration compliance a priority and stay tuned for more changes and perhaps challenges.