Groups ask court to delay E-Verify despite ruling

Plaintiffs considering appeal to overturn court decision

One of the organizations that attempted to block the mandatory E-Verify rule for federal contractors plans to appeal the recent court decision that upheld the rule, and today filed a motion asking the court to delay implementation of the order.

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Maryland ruled against the organizations Aug. 26, upholding the Homeland Security Department’s rule making E-Verify mandatory for federal contractors starting Sept. 8.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Associated Builders and Contractors.

“We have a filed an emergency motion for an injunction pending appeal, which is a placeholder, but is considered an appeal since it is part of the appeal process. The attorneys are working on the formal appeal,” said Gerry Fritz, a spokesman for the builders' group.

Separately, the plaintiffs also asked the Justice Department to voluntarily delay, or stay, enforcement of the E-Verify rule beyond the scheduled Sept. 8 date. The Justice Department denied that request today, Fritz said.

E-Verify is a Web-based system that DHS runs in partnership with the Social Security Administration. Employers enter the Social Security numbers of prospective new hires and current employees. The system is intended to verify that the subjects are legally eligible to work in the United States, but the program has been controversial due to errors in the databases involved.

Lawrence Lorber, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, said they have notified the court that if the injunction is granted, the appeal will be filed in 30 days. The goal of the injunction is to avoid the harm that would be caused by beginning enforcement of the rule on Sept. 8, he said.

"There will be irreparable harm to the plaintiffs if the order is not stayed," Lorber said. "You cannot unscramble the egg."

Randy Johnson, senior vice president of labor, immigration and employee benefits at the chamber, said the organization is considering all its options. “We are looking at our chances of winning, and whether we can raise enough money to continue the case,” he said.

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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