Earlier last month, current Florida governor Ron DeSantis signed a new law, known as “SB 664”, that would make E-Verify the mandatory method of verifying work eligibility. This would apply to all government employees and even some private employers as well. The provision will be mandatory beginning January first of next year, 2021.
Any public employer, contractor, or even subcontractor will need to use the E-Verify system and will be barred from entering any public contract until they obtain an E-Verify certificate. All public projects will need a written statement declaring that the contractor or subcontractor does not employ unauthorized aliens. Originally created in 1996, the program didn’t gain as much traction until 2007, when it was mandated that federal government agencies were required to participate in the program for preemployment purposes.
Immigrants’ rights activists have opposed this legislation since it was merely governor Ron DeSantis’ 2018 campaign promise. Civil rights groups claim that the system, like most, enacts unfair judgment whilst also being potentially faulty and inaccurate. ACLU Florida legislative director, Kara Gross, has stated that even those legally eligible for work are often “flagged” for errors, due to surname changes from marriage, or even simple typos. Gross states that the law would also harm businesses, workers, and most overall the economy. The new law would also require those flagged to prove the flag is an error within 8 business days. Those who might need to request supportive documentation might have difficulty correcting such mistakes by this deadline.
Mixed feelings exist about the new law not only between Republicans and Democrats but within the Republican party itself. Proponents of the law, siding with the law, agree with DeSantis’ official statement (announced by spokesperson Hellen Ferre), “Given the high unemployment rate due to COVID-19, it is more important than ever to ensure that the state’s legal residents benefit from jobs that become available.” Business owners in the agriculture, construction, and hospitality industry have been vocal against this form of government regulation.”
Since it’s use in the federal government in 2007, not too many states have enacted laws that make the use of the website mandatory for government positions. States with required e-verify checks include Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah on top of the sunshine state. These mentioned states (not including Florida) have extended their requirements to private employers as well, with their own respective criteria. Many of these adopted such laws prior to and in the early dawn of the recently ended 2010s, so a nationwide trend towards enacting such laws would not be predicted. Rhode Island, a state that previously enacted such a law in 2008, elected a different governor who would rescind the law almost immediately upon accepting office in 2011. Other states require use, but enforcement is not notably active. Some states, like California, have explicitly made it illegal to require government agencies to use the system. This barring does not make it illegal to use it, as it is still permissible as an optional choice that a handful of municipalities in the state choose to partake.
Private businesses in unmentioned states are essentially free to use the E-Verify system to their own accord or not. If you are interested in learning the status of E-Verify requirement laws and legislative changes in your state, inquire with your local legislators.