By Vince Jackson

From the Anderson Independent-Mail

Illegal workers face added restrictions to working in South Carolina since a new law went into effect requiring employers to use E-Verify or other federal work authorization programs on January 1.

The law requires all public employers and public contractors employing over 500 people electronically check and verify the employment eligibility of new employees by accessing a federal database.

Last year the Pickens County Council voted to require that all new county employees be documented as legal workers. The county also required all vendors doing business with Pickens County certify that they are not knowingly using illegal workers on any county projects.

Margaret Thompson, a Pickens County resident who supported the law, said information she has received from county officials is that it works.

“Pickens County decided last summer to go beyond the state requirements and immediately require anyone working for and doing business with this county refrain from using illegal workers,” she said.

Jennifer Woods, human resources director for Pickens County, said “E-Verify is phenomenal. I don’t know why anyone would not want to use it. It is free and you can get results in 30 seconds,” she said.

Woods said the verification system only required about 30 minutes of training before she could use the program successfully.

E-Verify can detect document fraud by matching photos of employees to the employee’s picture ID. Social security numbers are matched to employee records to ensure compliance with the law, say state officials.

Currently, only three states, Arizona, South Carolina and Mississippi have laws on the books that require E-Verification.

Newly confirmed Department of Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano, the former governor of Arizona, has watched the E-Verify system at work in her state for the past year. At her Senate confirmation hearing she said she would work to bring pressure on employers to stop hiring illegal workers, at the federal level, much as has been done in Arizona.

The South Carolina law states that on July 1 of this year all private employers with 100 or more employees must use E-Verify when hiring new employees. By July 1, 2010 all employers, regardless of size, must us the system to verify the legal status of new employees.

Violation of the law can result in a $1,000 fine per violation and revocation of business license.


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