E-Verify extended to March 2009

The recent continuing resolution delays the decision on reauthorizing DHS' employment verification program and provides $100 million in new funding for it.

Congress' decision on whether to reauthorize the Homeland Security Department’s controversial E-Verify employment verification program has been pushed to March 2009. Meanwhile, the program will get $100 million in new funding under the continuing resolution funding legislation signed by President Bush Sept. 30.

E-Verify, formerly known as Basic Pilot, has been operating for more than a decade. About 80,000 employers use it, mostly on a voluntary basis. However, Bush signed an executive order June 6 that requires federal contractors and subcontractors to participate in E-Verify.

The program has been controversial because of the alleged high error rates in the federal databases used to verify eligibility. The Social Security Administration cannot immediately verify about 7 percent of the queries, and Citizenship and Immigration Services cannot quickly confirm about 1 percent of applicants as authorized to work in this country, according to a report issued June 10 by the Government Accountability Office.

E-Verify’s authorization was set to expire Nov. 29. Although the House approved a five-year reauthorization, the legislation did not go to a vote in the Senate. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) put a hold on a bill to continue E-Verify and requested that the Senate attach a provision to distribute additional employment visas to foreign workers.

Under the continuing resolution, E-Verify will operate through March 6, 2009. The new funding is part of the homeland security appropriation for fiscal 2009 that was folded into the legislation.

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