ICE Enforcement Drives Up California Employers' Use of E-Verify
November 9, 2011
The number of California job sites using E-Verify has increased by 37 percent over the past year, according to government records. More than 26,000 California employers now use the federal program to check the immigration status of new hires at more than 90,000 job sites across the state. E-Verify has gained visibility as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has ramped up its worksite enforcement investigations and criminal prosecutions over the past year, in a stated effort to deter unlawful employment and cultivate a culture of compliance with immigration-related employment laws. To that end, ICE issued a record 2,393 Notices of Inspection related to federal Forms I-9 in fiscal year 2011, a more than 375 percent increase from the number issued in fiscal year 2008, ICE Director John Morton said in October.
While ICE has been ramping up its worksite enforcement activity across the country, California has gone out of its way to make the use of E-Verify voluntary for private employers in the state. A new California law, which goes into effect January 1, 2012, prohibits the state, cities and counties from mandating that private employers use E-Verify. Assemblyman Paul Fong (D-Sunnyvale), who introduced the bill, said mandatory E-Verify would place an unnecessary burden on employers in California, and particularly on small businesses. The use of E-Verify remains mandatory for federal contractors nationwide.