On July 8, 2009, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that, beginning September 8, 2009, the Obama administration will implement the stalled regulation that requires federal contractors to use the E-Verify electronic database system. E-Verify is designed to assist registered employers in checking an employee’s identity and work authorizations and, in this way, helping them avoid hiring an undocumented worker.

This announcement follows a staggered history of this regulation. It first was proposed in 2008 by the Bush administration, but later suspended by the Obama administration pending a full review. After six months of study, DHS now has decided to implement the regulation and require government contractors to use E-Verify. The regulation will become effective on September 8, 2009.

As indicated in past alerts, we believe that the move to expand the use of E-Verify is part of the Obama administration’s overall strategy of increasing employer initiatives and enforcement actions so that it will be in a better position to succeed with comprehensive immigration reform. This is similar to the strategy employed in the 1980s, the last time we had comprehensive immigration reform. The first step was IRCA, which created the Form I- 9 process, and for the first time, made it unlawful for employers to hire an undocumented worker. Four years later, Congress passed the Immigration Act of 1990, which provided comprehensive reform of the immigration laws in effect at the time. Thus, there is ample precedent for the Obama administration’s current immigration strategy.