The President and Vice President met with a bipartisan group of Congressional leaders in late June to discuss one of today’s most contentious issues – immigration – and how to go about reforming the broken immigration system. One of the White House’s focal points for immigration reform is enhanced enforcement efforts. The President noted that the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor are working to crack down on employers who are exploiting illegal workers.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is launching a new audit initiative by issuing Notices of Inspection (NOIs) to 652 businesses nationwide – which is more than ICE issued throughout all of last fiscal year. The notices alert business owners that ICE will be inspecting their hiring records to determine whether or not they are complying with employment eligibility verification laws and regulations. Inspections are one of the most powerful tools the federal government has to enforce employment and immigration laws. This new initiative illustrates ICE’s increased focus on holding employers accountable for their hiring practices and efforts to ensure a legal workforce.

The Department of Homeland Security announced that the Administration will push ahead with full implementation of the rule requiring use of E-Verify by government contractors, which will apply to federal solicitations and contract awards Government-wide starting on September 8, 2009. The federal contractor rule extends use of the E-Verify system to covered federal contractors and subcontractors, including those who receive American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds. DHS also announced it will scrap the Social Security No-Match Rule, which has never been implemented and has been blocked by court order, in favor of the more modern and effective E-Verify system. On July 8, the U.S. Senate adopted an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2010 Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill that will require federal contractors to use the government’s voluntary electronic employee verification system known as E-Verify. The spending bill also extends E-Verify for three more years.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) also recently announced that the Employment Eligibility Verification form I-9 (Rev. 02/02/09) currently on the USCIS Web site will continue to be valid for use beyond June 30, 2009. USCIS has requested that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approve the continued use of the current version of Form I-9. While this request is pending, the Form I-9 (Rev. 02/02/09) will not expire. USCIS will update Form I-9 when the extension is approved.   Employers will be able to use either the Form I-9 with the new revision date or the Form I-9 with the 02/02/09 revision date at the bottom of the form.