On February 27, 2013, the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security heard testimony regarding improvements made to E-Verify. While committee members acknowledged that E-Verify still suffers from some shortcomings, the message coming out of the hearing was clear that businesses in the U.S. had adapted to using E-Verify and are happy with its results. A representative from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) testified that E-Verify use has expanded to 432,000 employers, compared to only 24,000 in 2007. She also testified that surveys taken of its employer users indicate that the majority are confident in E-Verify’s accuracy and would recommend it to other employers.

A representative from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce told the subcommittee that while in the past the chamber resisted efforts to expand E-Verify, recent improvements in the system and feedback from chamber members have caused it to reassess its position. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce now supports a mandatory E-Verify law for all employers to be phased in over the next three years, provided that certain conditions are met. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce hopes to see a federal E-Verify law that preempts state and local verification laws, eliminating the possibility of a patchwork of laws nationwide, and opposes any law that would require employers to verify the employment authorization of existing employees. The representative from the chamber also testified that employers should continue to enjoy a safe harbor when they rely on the information generated by E-Verify.

The fact that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce now supports a mandatory E-Verify law will certainly make the prospect of such a law quite possible, either as part of President Obama’s effort to institute comprehensive immigration reform or as an independent initiative over the coming years. It is still unclear whether a mandatory E-Verify law would require U.S. employers to run only new hires through the system or both new hires and existing employees.