After a branch manager noticed that nearly half the company’s applicants presented questionable IDs, ResourceMFG put up a sign that warned potential hires that the recruiter used the E-Verify federal program to root out illegal immigrants. The company became one of a growing number of companies across the country enrolling in the E-Verify program run by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA).
ResourceMFG is just one of the North Carolina firms that are choosing the free and voluntary E-Verify program in record numbers. The number of companies in the state enrolled in E-Verify has increased by more than 700 percent to 2,567 in the past two years. And for good reason, since the Obama administration has warned that it will focus on employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants.
Last year, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) – the largest and primary investigative arm of the DHS – made more than 6,000 workplace arrests, 135 of which were employers and managers. In addition, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told a Senate hearing that active enforcement of our immigration laws by ICE must address not just the illegal workers themselves, but also the employers who hire illegal labor and fuel the phenomenon of illegal immigration into the United States.
For example, after more than 300 workers were detained in a raid of a plant in Greenville, S.C., the plant manager, the human resource manager, and about a dozen supervisors were arrested on immigration charges. As a result of these arrests and similar prosecutions, employers are paying a lot more attention to who they are hiring.
This aggressive stance against employing illegal workers has left many business owners worried about raids on their workplaces. Companies can no longer claim they didn’t know they hired workers using fake IDs, so many are using E-Verify to protect themselves in the event of raids or investigations.
First tested in 1997, E-Verify allows employers to compare employment forms to Social Security and immigration records. Participation nationally has been expanding at a rate of about 1,000 new employers a week. More than 122,000 employers are enrolled, nearly five times more than in 2007.
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