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National Restaurant Association - Congress extends E-Verify for three years

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Congress extends E-Verify for three years

Congress last week approved a bill extending the federal E-Verify program for three more years, through Sept. 30, 2015. President Obama is expected to sign the measure into law shortly.

The E-Verify program, which allows employers to enter I-9 information into an online federal database to check whether newly hired employees are eligible to work in the United States, had been scheduled to expire this month. The program began on a trial basis in 1996, and was made available to employers in all 50 states in 2003.

While E-Verify remains largely a voluntary program, its use is now mandatory for at least some employers in 19 states. Many states require federal contractors and state agencies to use the system. Others -- including Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah -- make the use of E-Verify mandatory for at least some private businesses, according to a 2012 report from the National Restaurant Association and ImmigrationWorks USA.

A few additional states give employers incentives to use the system, and Louisiana requires private employers to either use E-Verify or check photo IDs of new hires.

Although U.S. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and many other U.S. lawmakers pushed hard during the current Congress to make E-Verify mandatory for all employers, their bills are unlikely to be approved before Congress adjourns this year. In the absence of comprehensive immigration reform, the NRA supports a uniform federal E-Verify system, as long as it's timely, efficient, accurate and easy for businesses to use. The NRA also believes that employers who use a system in good faith should not be held liable for actions taken on the basis on information provided.

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