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Immigration Alert: DHS Announces New E-Verify Civil Rights Initiatives

On March 17, 2010, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced three new initiatives concerning E-Verify, the voluntary web-based system operated in partnership by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Social Security Administration that allows participating employers to electronically verify the employment eligibility of newly hired workers.  Information regarding the DHS announcement is available here.

The most significant of these initiatives is an information-sharing agreement signed by USCIS, a division of DHS, and the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Special Counsel (OSC), which is charged with enforcing federal civil rights laws, including those regarding immigration-related unfair employment practices.  As one of the two agencies with responsibility for administrating E-Verify, USCIS will provide OSC with query data and other information that may assist it in identifying instances of potential discrimination resulting from employer misuse of E-Verify.  The agreement specifies four categories of prohibited actions by employers that are the subject of OSC’s jurisdiction: citizenship status discrimination, national origin discrimination, document abuse, and retaliation.  At the same time, OSC will provide USCIS with reports of employer misuse of E-Verify that fall outside of the Justice Department’s enforcement arena.

DHS also announced the launch of a new E-Verify hotline designed to respond to inquiries, issues, and complaints by employees.  The hotline will offer information about E-Verify and I-9 processes, will facilitate an employee’s response to a tentative non-confirmation or perceived final non-confirmation errors, or allow an employee to file a complaint about possible discrimination or employer misuse of E-Verify.  USCIS will share such complaints with OSC pursuant to the agreement described above. 

Finally, USCIS has produced two educational training videos that explain E-Verify procedures and policies, as well as employee rights and employer responsibilities.  The videos are entitled “Understanding E-Verify: Employer Responsibilities and Worker Rights” and “Know Your Rights: Employee Rights and Responsibilities.”  They are available in both English and Spanish at http://www.dhs.gov/e-verify

Please contact your designated Gibney representative or email immigrationalerts@gibney.com for additional details regarding this announcement, or for advice on developing protocols and best practices concerning the use of E-Verify or other immigration-related onboarding processes.

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This immigration article is provided as general information for clients and friends of Gibney, Anthony & Flaherty, LLP. It does not constitute, and should not be construed as, legal advice. The contents of this article may be considered attorney advertising in some states.

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