In the aftermath of Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting, several states, including Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, and South Carolina, have enacted legislation that will require employers to register and participate in the federal government’s employment eligibility electronic verification system, known as “E-Verify.” In Whiting, the United States Supreme Court upheld provisions in the Legal Arizona Workers Act that require electronic verification of employment eligibility through an E-Verify system. On May 13, 2011 Georgia enacted the Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act (IIREA), which was modeled after the Arizona law. The United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia recently held that two of the criminal provisions of IIREA were unconstitutional. The employer-related provisions of the statute, however, were allowed to move forward. On June 27, 2011, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley signed S.B. 20 into law, amending several sections of the South Carolina Illegal Immigration Reform Act of 2008. South Carolina employers have until January 1, 2012 to comply with the new law. Similarly, North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue signed a bill (H.B. 36) on June 23, 2011 requiring certain employers to verify the employment eligibility of all new hires through E-Verify. The North Carolina law’s 24-month phase-in period will begin on October 1, 2011. Several E-Verify bills, including S. 1258, H.R. 2164, H.R. 2000, and H.R. 800, that would mandate the use of E-verify for all new hires by U.S. employers have also been introduced in the House and Senate. These bills are aimed at expanding the use of E-Verify.
TIP: Employers in South Carolina and North Carolina must enact E-Verify procedures for hiring in order to avoid sanctions under these new immigration laws. Employers in other states should familiarize themselves with ongoing efforts at the state and federal levels to mandate employers’ use of E-Verify.