A three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Denver upheld an injunction against some points of an Oklahoma anti-immigrant law, but did permit the state to enact a provision whereby businesses would have to check their employment roster against a state list of eligible workers through a pilot program. The Oklahoma Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act of 2007 also requires that firing a US citizen or “legal” immigrant, while simultaneously employing an undocumented immigrant, be recognized as an unfair trade practice, giving the fired employee cause for legal action. The panel found that federal law preempted this provision, but split on whether mandatory electronic verification of employee status conflicts with voluntary use of a federal database.
The national E-Verify system is a no-charge, Internet-based system that checks employee identification through either their Social Security number or a photographic match database. The voluntary E-Verify system differs from the mandatory “no match” system that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) rescinded in October. That system would have mandated that employers fire any employee whose information did not match Social Security records. In a step towards reducing the voluntary nature of the E-Verify system, in July DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that the current administration supported regulations that would only supply contracts to employers who used the system. The E-Verify system was given its first boost when then-president George W. Bush signed an executive order mandating that all federal agencies require those they contract with to use the system. (Jurist, Feb. 3)
DHS efforts to promote E-Verify have been hindered by database errors that plague the system. A law similar to the Oklahoma measure took effect in Arizona in 2008, but a popular measure to toughen it was defeated that November.
See our last post on the politcs of immigration.