MCAA, PHCC concerned that system may over-burden PHC employers; could affect millions of workers.
The Department of Homeland Security has designated
E-Verify as the electronic employment eligibility verification system that all
federal contractors must use as required by a June 6 amendment to Executive
E-Verify is a free Internet-based system operated by U.S. Citizenship and
Immigration Services in partnership with the Social Security Administration. It
allows enrolled employers to quickly confirm the legal status of new hires.
“The basic principle is this: if you’re working for the federal government and
you’re being paid with federal taxes, you ought to make sure that your
employees are obeying federal law when it comes to their employment
authorization, and this executive order as implemented in detail by the
regulation will do precisely that,” stated Homeland Security SecretaryMichael
PresidentGeorge W. Bushamended Executive Order 12989 in
order to direct all federal departments and agencies to require contractors to
agree to use E-Verify to attest to the employment eligibility of all persons
hired during the contract term and all persons performing work within the
United States on the federal contract. It could involve millions of workers,
John McNerney, general counsel for the Mechanical
Contractors Association of America, said that the proposed regulations came out
after the executive order with “lightning speed.” “It goes to show how ready
they were to do this,” he said.
After comments on the regulations end Aug. 11, direct federal construction
prime and subcontractors, with contract values of $3,000 or more, must use
E-Verify for all new hires employed while the firm is performing covered
“This issue is linked to immigration, national security and overall workforce
integrity,” McNerney toldPM. And while MCAA recognizes the
“inevitability” of proliferating identification and security credentials, it
hopes the job can be done efficiently and without over-burdening businesses.
The group intends to comment before the Aug. 11 moratorium. “There are still a
number of questions.”
The Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors-National Association has, in the past,
come out against mandatory E-Verify compliance and has written multiple letters
to lawmakers voicing its concerns.
On June 10, PHCC submitted a joint statement for the record at a hearing in the
House Judiciary Subcommittee on immigration, citizenship, refugees, border
security and international law regarding the issue of E-Verify. PHCC cites
errors in the Social Security Administration’s database, burdens on small
businesses, a “labyrinth of conflicting laws and regulations,” and the
potential for liability.
While this executive order currently affects federal contractors,Jessica
Johnson Bennett, director of government relations for PHCC, thinks it
may influence individual states to follow suit.
“Unfortunately, more and more states are working toward mandatory use of
E-Verify by introducing legislation in state legislatures,” she toldPM.
“In the absence of a comprehensive strategy at the federal level, states feel
pressure to act. This is increasingly problematic for PHC contractors who operate
in multiple states and are now forced to deal with a patchwork of state
According to the DHS, more than 69,000 employers currently rely on E-Verify to
determine that new hires are authorized to work in the United States. Employers
have run more than 4 million employment verification queries so far in fiscal
year 2008. Of those queries, 99.5 percent of qualified employees are cleared
automatically by E-Verify.
To view the executive order, visitwww.whitehouse.gov.