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McCaskill introduces bill making voluntary E-Verify system mandatory

WASHINGTON – Following her years-long effort to mandate the use of the Electronic Verification (E-Verify) system, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill introduced the E-Verify System Act of 2018 this week, which would require all employers to use the E-Verify system to ensure that newly hired employees are either United States citizens or foreign nationals authorized to work in the U.S. legally.

“Creating a system that allows employers to verify the work status of their employees is a commonsense step and something that we can and should come together to address,” said McCaskill, the top-ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “The fact that the current system is voluntarily and haphazardly enforced creates more incentive for illegal immigration and allows too many businesses to easily skirt the law.”

Under current law, employers are required to examine documents presented by new hires to verify their identity and work authorization, but the current process is broken and often people fall through the cracks. The bill, which McCaskill introduced with Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), would allow employers to electronically verify the identity and work eligibility of new employees by comparing information from workers’ work eligibility documents (such as Social Security cards or drivers’ licenses) to information in Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration records for that individual. While it is currently unlawful to hire an individual without proper work status, the current E-Verify system is voluntary and enforcement is haphazard. McCaskill’s bill makes the use of the E-Verify system mandatory for all employers, strengthens the program by using a facial photo and other information specific to an individual, and includes additional robust protections to address privacy and information security.

McCaskill has long pushed to hold employers accountable for hiring undocumented workers. Last year, she called out employers who knowingly hire workers in the country illegally for “cheating the system.” At a Senate hearing, she questioned Department of Homeland Security personnel on why the agency continued to ignore employers who knowingly hired illegal immigrants for “creating an unfair competitive advantage.”

McCaskill has also been a longtime advocate for increasing security at the border. Early last year, McCaskill toured the U.S.-Mexico border to learn more about what Customs and Border Protection needs to increase border security. McCaskill’s efforts in 2010 led to the placement of 1,000 new border patrol agents, new unmanned aerial vehicles, improved communication equipment and more to monitor the border without adding to the deficit. In 2012, her bipartisan bill to combat illegal underground border tunnels—cosponsored by Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona—passed unanimously in the Senate and was signed into law. And bipartisan, comprehensive legislation to address the country’s broken immigration system in 2013 that McCaskill supported would have added 20,000 enforcement agents to the U.S.-Mexico border, while financing the construction of 700 miles of border fence and aerial drones to monitor the border.

McCaskill supported all 12 of President Trump’s Department of Homeland Security nominees that the Senate has confirmed, including the head of Customs and Border Protection. In April, she urged Immigration and Customs Enforcement to ensure that all individuals going through immigration proceedings are screened against the terrorist watch list. As the top Democrat on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, McCaskill helped lead the Committee in reauthorizing the Department of Homeland Security and laying out policy priorities for the Department, including a McCaskill-led provision on strengthening counterterrorism efforts. McCaskill also recently released a bombshell report showing that the amount of illicit opioid fentanyl seized by the Department of Homeland Security has increased dramatically, and that the overwhelming majority of fentanyl seizures are occurring at ports of entry.

Claire McCaskill

Claire McCaskill

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