Groups sue Chertoff over E-Verify

Several organizations have filed a lawsuit against Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff that challenges the legality of requiring federal contractors and subcontractors to use the Homeland Security  Department's E-Verify system. The system's purpose is to identify people who are not legally eligible to work in the United States.

The organizations include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Associated Builders and Contractors, Society for Human Resource Management, American Council on International Personnel and the HR Policy Association.

According to the complaint, filed Dec. 23 in the U.S. District Court for Maryland's southern division, the legislation that created E-Verify does not allow the government to require contractors to participate in the program. The law, which is an amended version of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, identifies E-Verify as one of several pilot programs that contractors can choose to take part in, but they cannot be required to do so.

However, President George W. Bush signed an executive order June 6 that changed the Federal Acquisition Regulation to require contractors and subcontractors to participate in E-Verify. The order is set to take effect Jan. 15, 2009.

Officials at the Information Technology Association of America also have concerns about the contractor requirements, but they chose not to sign with the plaintiffs. However, an ITAA spokeswoman said, "we will watch this challenge very closely [because] we believe this could delay the Jan. 15 implementation date."

A spokeswoman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a DHS agency, declined to comment because the litigation is pending.
 

About the Authors


Technology journalist Michael Hardy is a former FCW editor.

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