Revisiting the Ghost of I-9 and E-Verify Past

Today, we’re going to take a look at a few I-9 and E-Verify issues we raised recently that are making news again!

HAUNTED BY GREENCARDS (YET AGAIN)

Back in early April, I wrote about the dangers of becoming fixated on the greencard during the verification (or re-verification) process of an I-9 Form. This “fixation” has, unfortunately, gotten some companies into trouble with the Department of Justice’s Office of Special Counsel. In itslatest press release, the Department of Justice (DOJ) reports another similar settlement. On May 7, 2012, the DOJ entered a settlement with Imagine Schools in Ohio after investigating a complaint from an employee who was terminated after he “failed to produce an unexpired lawful permanent resident card” (aka greencard) during a re-verification of his employment eligibility status of his Form I-9. (In this particular scenario, the employee had already presented a valid greencard during the initial I-9 process when he was hired.) The settlement included a payment of a $600 civil fine to the government, a payment of $20,169 in back wages to the terminated employee, and other reporting and training requirements. Confused about over-documentation and document abuse? Fortunately, Allen Orr, Jr., of Orr Immigration Law Firm, P.C. has previously provided clarification on this issue. His best recommendation is for organizations to ensure its HR teams are properly trained, and, when possible, to use an attorney-approved electronic I-9 software system.

E-VERIFY SNUFFED OUT OF BILL

About two months ago, we wrote about the New Hampshire House Bill 1549, which was introduced in the State House of Representatives in January 2012. At one time, the bill contained language that “No state agency may adopt or enforce a requirement that employers participate in the E-Verify system of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to verify employee eligibility.” (Click here for the full text.) After many rounds of amendments though, the E-Verify language has been removed from the bill. The bill’s new purpose is to prohibit the use of motor vehicle records for any federal identification database. The following language was added instead, “No records made available under this section shall be used, directly or indirectly, for any federal identification database.” (Click here for the full text.)  With this amendment, it pretty much renders this bill a non-E-Verify bill, which we’ve been so accustomed to seeing. If approved by New Hampshire Governor John Lynch, it will be signed into state law.

OH BROTHER WHO ART THOU?

While we were busy discussing the issue of fraudulent documents during the I-9 employment eligibility verification on a recent blog article (which resulted in some robust comments), the government has been busy arresting identity document counterfeiters! Separate investigations conducted by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigation resulted in the arrest and charge of two separate groups in Kansas City and Fresno for their roles in providing fraudulent documents to undocumented workers. Though ICE conducts investigations that involve all kinds of crimes, these recent arrests further highlight the demand for fraudulent identity and employment documents. When I asked our expert attorneys their recommendations on how organizations should handle the inspection of fraudulent documents, they did not share a universal approach. However, their overall recommendation was apparent. When it comes to identifying fraudulent documents during the Form I-9 verification process, employers should seriously consider implementing a strategy that is appropriate for their organization.