House Proposes Piecemeal Immigration Approach

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The U.S. House of Representatives has begun rolling out its immigration-reform legislation one issue at a time as the Senate announced that its comprehensive approach (S. 744) is scheduled to begin committee markup May 9, 2013, the first step toward a vote.

Rep. Robert Goodlatte, R-Va., the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which handles immigration-reform legislation, announced on April 26 the first two of a proposed series of immigration-related bills. H.R. 1772 mandates employer use of the E-Verify employment verification system, and H.R. 1773 establishes a new temporary agricultural guest worker program.

Changes to E-Verify

The Legal Workforce Act would replace the current paper-based I-9 system of verifying newly hired employees with an electronic system. There is some confusion about the integration language in the Senate proposal. The House bill would make E-Verify mandatory within two years of the measure’s enactment, as opposed to five under the Senate’s plan, although both phase in businesses by size. Unlike the Senate bill, the House legislation would require certain employers to use E-Verify to check existing employees’ work authorization within six months of the bill’s passage. These include employers in federal, state or local government, those that employ workers with security clearances and certain federal contractors. Employers would be granted a safe harbor under the bill if they show they used the E-Verify program in good faith.

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