State Senator Jessica Ramos has introduced a bill that would prohibit cities and municipalities from requiring employers to check an employee or prospective employee’s immigration status.
Currently, New York does not require employers to use E-Verify, but municipal governments can choose to mandate it.
“Your immigration status shouldn’t preclude you from making an honest living and advancing your career,” Ramos said in a statement. “The E-Verify system is flawed, which is why I want to make it illegal to require these E-Verify checks in New York.
“We need to protect undocumented immigrants who are here in search of safety and economic opportunity,” she added, “and I believe my bill will do just that.”
The proposed legislation comes days after a television ad by the immigration-reduction organization NumbersUSA aired during the Democratic presidential debate last week. The ad promoted E-Verify as a way to “prevent illegal hiring.”
Ramos said the ad spreads “false information” about E-Verify and, as a result, incites “more xenophobia” across the country.
E-Verify, a federal program, was created in the 1996 Immigration Reform and Control Act.
Angeles Solis, the lead organizer of workplace justice at Make the Road New York, said in a statement that negligent employers exploit E-Verify to intimidate immigrant workers. She encouraged the passage of Ramos’s legislation.
“It’s time for New York to do away with E-Verify requirements and align themselves with a vision of freedom for our immigrant neighbors,” Solis said. “This bill represents a strong step in the right direction.”
Ramos’s bill would allow an employee to challenge an incorrect E-Verify notice. It also reiterates the employers’ obligation to notify employees of a “tentative non-confirmation” notice, and will fine employers up to $10,000 for failing to provide notice.
The bill has support from the Jackson Heights-based organization New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE). Manual Castro, its executive director, said in a statement that E-Verify pushes workers further underground and to the margins, making them easily exploitable by employers.
“Immigrants make up a disproportionate amount of workplace abuse victims,” Castro said. “By prohibiting cities and municipalities from forcing employers to use E-Verify, the bill will send a resounding message to immigrant communities across the state and it’ll allow workers to better come together to fight for safer, better-paying jobs.”