Both Congress and state legislatures around the country have been busy in recent months proposing immigration legislation. On June 14, 2011, Representative Lamer Smith (R-Texas) introduced the Legal Workforce Act (HR 2164), which would require all employers to use E-Verify within two years. That same day, Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-California) introduced the Immigration Driving Entrepreneurship in America Act (HR 2161), which would allow U.S. companies to sponsor for green cards those employees with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math ("STEM"), and would help employers attract and retain highly skilled foreign graduates of U.S. universities with STEM degrees. On May 3, 2011, Representative Sue Myrick (R-N. Carolina) introduced the 10K Run for the Border Act (HR 1698), which would substantially increase the civil fines for employers that hire undocumented workers.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, state lawmakers in 44 states introduced 279 immigration-related bills. Several of those bills were enacted in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, and North Carolina. In Georgia, the governor signed GA House Bill 87, which contains provisions similar to Arizona SB 1070 and is intended to crack down on illegal immigration to and in the state. Two of the major enforcement provisions of this law, however, have been enjoined. See Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights v. Deal, No. 1:11-CV-1804-TWT (N.D. Ga. June 27, 2011).
On June 7, 2011, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam signed HB 1378, which requires all Tennessee employers to use E-Verify or maintain documentation demonstrating employment authorization for all employees. On June 9, 2011, the Alabama governor signed HB 56, which requires, among other things, employers to use E-Verify, and public schools to verify the immigration status of students and parents. HB 56 also prohibits property owners from renting to illegal immigrants. On June 23, 2011, North Carolina Governor Bev Purdue signed Session Law 2011-263, which requires counties and municipalities and businesses or other organizations with 25 or more employees to use E-Verify and phases in the E-Verify requirement, depending on the size of the business or organization, starting October 1, 2012. On June 27, 2011, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley signed S.B. 20, which will require employers to participate in E-Verify starting on July 1, 2012, and contains police stop provisions similar to those enjoined in Georgia that are expected to take effect on January 1, 2012.
The exponential growth of this state legislation requires employers to be even more vigilant about Form I-9 compliance in these jurisdictions.