Bill Would Attempt To Mandate E-Verify Use

Des Moines, Iowa — Republicans on a House subcommittee have advanced a bill that would let the state suspend or revoke business licenses from employers who knowingly hire people who aren’t eligible to work in the U.S.

It would require that businesses use the federal government’s E-Verify system to check the immigration status of job applicants. Critics say the E-Verify system is sometimes inaccurate and the bill would unfairly penalized businesses for hiring someone the system indicated could be employed.

Larry Blixt is a lobbyist for a Red Oak based association that represents Iowa greenhouses.

No one spoke in favor of the bill during a statehouse hearing Wednesday. The two Republicans who voted to keep it eligible for further debate have major concerns about how the bill would affect businesses, but decided to keep it alive to continue the conversation. Republican Representative Phil Thompson of Jefferson says almost every section of the bill has flaws that would have to be changed before he’d vote for it.

The chairman of the House committee that would consider the bill says the federal government’s E-Verify system isn’t foolproof and Republicans will have a good conversation about those failings before they’d ever bring the bill up for a vote. Backers of the proposal have been trying since 2012 to require that Iowa businesses use the E-Verify system to confirm all employees are in the country legally.

The proposed legislation, HSB 105, does state that the employer does create an affirmative defense if the employer made a “bona fide attempt” to comply. The employer could do so by showing they had attempted to verify the employment eligibility by filling out the appropriate I-9 form, and participating in the E-Verify program. The affirmative defense would negate civil and criminal liability for illegally employing an individual even if the E-Verify program erroneously identifies an individual as able to be legally employed when they are not.



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