First Texas Republican is Appointed to Lead the Judiciary Committee. What does this mean for I-9 Enforcement?

[Editor’s Note: today’s blog is courtesy of Dawn Lurie and Kevin Lashus of Greenberg Traurig] Today, Congressman Lamar Smith (R-San Antonio) was appointed by the Republican congressional leadership as Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.  This is important to Form I-9 verification compliance officers and their counsel for several reasons:

  1. The House Judiciary Committee is the second oldest standing committee in Congress, and has oversight responsibility for the Department of Justice AND the Department of Homeland Security;
  2. The Chairman is a proponent of the 2007 Arizona law that allows the state to revoke the business licenses of employers that refuse to incorporate E-Verify into their on-boarding process;
  3. The Chairman has been quite vocal that, although increased worksite audits can result in significant fines, most employers consider the administrative fines assessed as, “just the cost of doing business;” and,
  4. The Chairman is of the opinion that, by virtue of her prior position as Solicitor General for the United States, Justice Elena Kagan should recuse herself from any Supreme Court decision resulting from the Arizona litigation.

Chairman Smith today also announced his priorities for the committee under his leadership:

As Chairman of the Committee, I will focus on efforts to strengthen national security, protect intellectual property, prevent frivolous lawsuits and keep children safe from Internet sex predators.  The Judiciary Committee will support industries that employ millions of Americans by protecting their patents and copyrights.  And, we will promote worksite enforcement efforts that make sure scarce jobs go to legal workers.

The Judiciary Committee also oversees two federal agencies that help prevent terrorist attacks.  The Department of Justice and Homeland Security should have the resources necessary to keep America safe.  As Chairman, I am committed to strenuous oversight of the Obama Administration.  We need to make sure that our laws are equally enforced, criminals are prosecuted and enemy combatants are kept off of American soil.”

What does this mean for employers? Based on recent public statements, we anticipate that the Committee will hold hearings on the number and result of recent administrative worksite audits and the fines assessed.  The Chairman believes that the Obama Administration needs to be held responsible for its decision to allow ICE to “turn [illegal workers] loose in the community to compete with U.S. citizens and legal immigrants for other jobs,” rather than arrest them at the worksite.  In fact, the Chairman has repeatedly said, “When ICE does engage in worksite enforcement actions, it allows the illegal workers [to] simply walk down the street to the next employer to seek employment.  If the federal government is abdicating its responsibility to enforce our immigration laws, how can the administration protest when individual states seek to protect their residents?

Ultimately, employers should expect a mix of continued Obama era I-9 fine assessments and investigations, with Bush era oversight and desire for unauthorized employees to be permanently removed from the workforce.  In other words, a Republican Committee and a Democratic Administration means increased hearings and scrutiny. Looks like there is a new sheriff in town….

– See more at: http://www.lawlogix.com/blog/first-texas-republican-appointed-lead-judiciary-committee-what-does-mean-i-9-enforcement#overlay-context=what-is-dream-act-and-who-are-dreamers