Missouri Latest State To Enact E-Verify Requirement

On July 7, 2008, Missouri Governor Matt Blunt signed a bill, effective January 1, 2009, requiring employers contracting or receiving grants from the state in excess of $5,000  to use E-Verify.  Missouri joins a growing number of states that, in the absence of a federal comprehensive immigration reform act, have chosen to regulate the employment of illegal workers. The Missouri bill shares similarities to other bills enacted in states such as: Colorado, Georgia, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and Utah. However, this bill goes further by requiring employers with state-administered tax credits, tax abatement, or state-administered loans to also use E-verify. The bill also gives Missouri's Attorney General the authority to enforce the act.  Missouri's Attorney General may now demand: 1) employers to provide identification information on their employees; 2) employers to provide identification documents within 15 business days of receiving such a request.  Failing to abide by the request could result in the suspension of a company's applicable local licenses, permits, and exemptions until the documents are supplied, 3) employers to classify its employees correctly (i.e. knowingly classifying an employee as an independent contractor when he/she is not carries fines ranging from $50 to $50,000.)  A contractor will not be liable for the unauthorized employment of an illegal alien if a subcontractor employing the individual provides a sworn affidavit that the employee is authorized to work in the US. Missouri's law does not substitute the federal requirement to complete Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification.

South Carolina Passes Illegal Immigration Reform Act

On June 4, 2008, Mark Sanford, governor of South Carolina signed into law an omnibus immigration bill (HR 4400), which requires employers to verify the identity of employees with either a South Carolina driver's license or through E-verify.  This bill also denies non-emergency medical care for undocumented adult immigrants by state funded clinics and hospitals. One important issues is that because federal law requires that care be given without discrimination, local healthcare providers will be facing a significant challenge in following the law. In recognition of this challenge, perhaps, no state agency is tasked with enforcing the new restrictions. Further, the new law goes on to prohibit undocumented immigrants from attending public institutions of higher education or receiving state funded scholarships. One particular and concerning issue is that the chief of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division is mandated to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the federal government (ICE) regarding enforcement of federal immigration law. The new law also also allows for law enforcement personnel to be deputized and trained for these duties. According to AILA, the bill contains similar language to Oklahoma's Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act of 2007 (H.B. 1804). 

In the mean time, South Carolina's Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation has established a Web site to assist employers comply with the new immigration law. But the new law mandates the Labor Department to investigate complaints against companies who are hiring illegal immigrants. According to the new law, South Carolina's Labor Department is also responsible for randomly auditing businesses to verify employees’ legal status. Businesses with 100 or more employees must comply by July1, 2009 and all other businesses must follow the law by July 1, 2010. The new Web site is www.llr.state.sc.us/immigration. Georgia also has a similar law.  Is Florida next?