E-Verify postponed for contractors

Enforcement of a new rule that requires federal contractors to use the Homeland Security Department’s E-Verify system to check employees' work eligibility has been postponed until Feb. 20, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced.

DHS is delaying implementation from the original Jan. 15 starting date to Feb. 20 as a result of negotiations associated with a lawsuit filed by the chamber and other business groups, the chamber said in a Jan. 9 news release.

Under President George W. Bush’s executive order, use of E-Verify was to be made mandatory for approximately 168,000 federal contractors beginning Jan. 15. The E-Verify regulation pertains to federal contracts of more than $100,000 and subcontracts of more than $3,000. A coalition of business groups led by the chamber is suing to keep E-Verify from being imposed on contractors.

The E-Verify program, which is jointly run by DHS and the Social Security Administration, allows employers to electronically submit Social Security numbers for new hires and existing employees. If there is a match, the employee is deemed eligible to work. If not, there are procedures for further assessments.

The lawsuit challenging the rule is pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. Co-plaintiffs are the Society for Human Resource Management, the Associated Builders and Contractors, the HR Policy Association, and the American Council on International Personnel.

The chamber contends that the rule exceeds Congress’ intent in setting up the E-Verify program. "The administration cannot use an executive order to circumvent Congress' intent that E-Verify be used only on a voluntary basis," Randy Johnson, the chamber's vice president of labor, immigration and employee benefits, said in the release. "Although we hope to resolve the litigation in an expeditious manner, the postponement of the rule will help ensure that the court is not unduly rushed to weigh the serious legal questions in this case."

The chamber also said it hopes that the Obama administration will review the E-Verify requirement and possibly revise it.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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