On Thursday, January 31st, House Republican leaders released a broad, two-page list of general immigration principles aimed at revitalizing debate on the immigration reform issue with the hope of getting something done in the near future. While the principles were short on details, the reception was generally optimistic that this conciliatory gesture could lead to action this year.
The House Republicans insist that they will stand firm on the “no special path to citizenship” stance, and state that if that remains a demand on the part of Democrats, reform will again stall this year. (An immigration measure containing such a provision passed the Senate with 68 votes last year prior to stalling in the House)
Of high interest to employers is the section entitled “Employment Verification and Worksite Enforcement”. This section states that “In the 21st century, it is unacceptable that the majority of employees have their work eligibility verified through a paper-based system wrought with fraud. It is past time for this country to fully implement a workable electronic employment verification system.” This would tend to suggest that mandating E-Verify is very high on the list of priorities for worksite enforcement. The full text of the standards can be found at : http://www.speaker.gov/sites/speaker.house.gov/files/Immigration-Standards.pdf .
While the release of these standards, coupled with President Obama’s State of the Union call for reform has enhanced cause for optimism, it is likely that real debate on this topic is months away. Stay tuned to this space, as this is a topic we will follow closely and blog on as developments occur.