Obama immigration plan calls for E-Verify changes

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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WASHINGTON – This week, President Obama announced his plan for comprehensive immigration reform, which includes increased border security, accountability for businesses who hire undocumented workers, reforming the visa system to expand the legal immigration system and a plan for bringing those in the US illegally into the legal system, the American Meat Institute relayed.

Several modifications to the current E-Verify system are also proposed, including:

• Phasing in mandatory use of the E-Verify system over a multi-year period in conjunction with a program that requires the undocumented population to get right with the law. Employers with more than 1000 employees would be required to join the system first, with additional phases that add more employers in succeeding years. Some small businesses could be exempt from using the E-Verify system.

• Establishing a standardized process for efficiently reviewing cases when the E-Verify system is unable to confirm a worker's authorization status, giving employees prompt notice of the problem and adequate time to correct their records.

• Changing and expanding anti-discrimination provisions of immigration law and providing more comprehensive anti-retaliation protections.

• Hiking civil penalties for employers who knowingly hire unauthorized workers, violate anti-discrimination provisions and engage in retaliation against employees.

• Providing a safe harbor for employers who employ undocumented workers, if the E-Verify system inaccurately confirmed their work authorization.

• Improving administration and coordination between the Social Security Administration (SSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the two federal agencies managing the E-Verify system.

• Providing clearer criminal provisions and more comprehensive penalties for fraudulent use or acquisition of a Social Security card.

• Continuing to improve Social Security cards to make them fraud or wear-resistant. SSA would need sufficient resources and time to prepare for a multi-year phased-in approach given the additional work caused by expansion of the program. Additionally, any changes should not be paid for by drawing from SSA trust or benefit funds.

• Piloting the development of a biometric identifier that could be potentially used for employment verification in the future.

“The meat industry has been involved in the E-Verify program since its inception and supports efforts to achieve a practical and functional worksite electronic employment verification system and the necessary tools to secure our nation’s borders,” said J. Patrick Boyle, AMI President and CEO. “AMI has supported the E-Verify program and has advocated for improvements to strengthen the system. We are encouraged by the president’s recent statements to improve this important tool and we look forward to continuing our work with the administration on this issue.”
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