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E-Verify rule for federal contractors on hold

January 19 2009

The Department of Homeland Security delayed a rule requiring federal contractors to use the E-Verify service. The rule was to become mandatory on Jan. 15, but has been put on hold until Feb. 20.

The move comes after the Society for Human Resource Management and other groups filed suit to stop the rule.

"This pause merely allows litigants the opportunity to make their case before a judge, and prevents parties opposed to the rule from additional stalling through litigation," Department of Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke said in a statement on Jan. 9. "We are confident that their arguments will not prevail."

E-Verify is a Web-based service for employers that checks information from I-9 forms against Homeland Security and Social Security Administration databases to ensure a worker is legally eligible to work in the U.S.

SHRM argued in its lawsuit that authority to make such a mandate must come from Congress. It also said that E-Verify would prove costly to federal contractors who already verify their workforces through the I-9 process, and it could expose employers to more lawsuits from workers who feel they were discriminated against on the basis of race or national origin.

Homeland Security said more than 100,000 employers are already using the system with more signing up each week. "E-Verify is fast, free and exceptionally reliable," Knocke said. "It is obvious why so many employers want E-Verify as a tool to comply with the law, and it is unfortunately apparent why others will stop at nothing to block it."

Some states mandate the use of E-Verify.

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