As the government's crackdown on illegal immigrants continues, E-Verify could prove to be an employer's best friend.

E-Verify is the federal database that allows employers to check information from employees' I-9s against data stored by the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration. While currently only required by a handful of states and localities and of federal contractors, some employers are using it in addition to the required I-9 form to further ensure that the people they hire are legally authorized to work in the United States.

One such company is Chipotle. A recent The Wall Street Journal article reported that a criminal investigation is being waged to determine if the company hired illegal immigrants. Despite having a consistent I-9 process in place, which included having each form verified by the hiring manager and then double checked by human resources, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) audit revealed that a large number of employees had presented false documentation with their I-9s.

As a result, Chipotle is creating new procedures to ensure they are hiring authorized workers.  As part of this overhaul, the company announced that workers at all of the chain's locations will be run through the E-Verify system.

Whether or not ICE auditors will go easy on employers who show they made a good faith effort by using E-Verify is uncertain. But one thing is clear: it's better to find out that a worker is not eligible to work in the United States via E-Verify than to find out, as Chipotle did, through an ICE audit!

As the government's crackdown on illegal immigrants continues, E-Verify could prove to be an employer's best friend.

E-Verify is the federal database that allows employers to check information from employees' I-9s against data stored by the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration. While currently only required by a handful of states and localities and of federal contractors, some employers are using it in addition to the required I-9 form to further ensure that the people they hire are legally authorized to work in the United States.

One such company is Chipotle. A recent The Wall Street Journal article reported that a criminal investigation is being waged to determine if the company hired illegal immigrants. Despite having a consistent I-9 process in place, which included having each form verified by the hiring manager and then double checked by human resources, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) audit revealed that a large number of employees had presented false documentation with their I-9s.

As a result, Chipotle is creating new procedures to ensure they are hiring authorized workers.  As part of this overhaul, the company announced that workers at all of the chain's locations will be run through the E-Verify system.

Whether or not ICE auditors will go easy on employers who show they made a good faith effort by using E-Verify is uncertain. But one thing is clear: it's better to find out that a worker is not eligible to work in the United States via E-Verify than to find out, as Chipotle did, through an ICE audit!

Debbie Fledderjohann is the President of Top Echelon Contracting, Inc.

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