E-Verify Bill Again Advances in Iowa
Iowa lawmakers have once again seen progress toward adopting a statewide E-Verify law to ensure a legal workforce in the Hawkeye State. E-Verify is a federal program that allows employers to instantly check, free of charge, whether their employees and prospective employees are legally authorized to work in the United States.
The need for E-Verify in Iowa was particularly highlighted in 2018 by the tragic death of Iowa college student Mollie Tibbetts, allegedly at the hands of an illegal alien who had been working at an Iowa farm for years. Had his employer been required to use E-Verify, the illegal immigrant might well have not been in the country at all.
State Senator Julian Garrett (R-Indianola) has introduced E-Verify legislation in previous sessions, including a bill that passed the Iowa Senate in 2019 but then stalled in the House of Representatives. Senate File 84 introduced on January 14 by Senator Garrett already has sixteen cosponsors. This bill would:
- Prohibit employing illegal aliens as a matter of state law (it’s already banned by federal law);
- Give an employer who uses E-Verify a rebuttable presumption of good-faith compliance;
- Allow people to file complaints against employers who employ illegal aliens with Iowa Workforce Development, which can then file suit in court;
- Impose a three-year probationary period on an employer’s business license for a first violation;
- Require quarterly reporting by employers during the probationary period showing that any new employees are legally authorized to work in the U.S.; and
- Allow the court to revoke an employer’s business license for a violation during the probationary period.
The bill was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee and had a hearing by a three-member subcommittee on January 25. This subcommittee voted 2-1 to send the bill forward to the full committee. It was supported in the subcommittee by bill sponsor Senator Garrett and Senator Jason Schultz (R-Schleswig) and was opposed by Senator Kevin Kinney (D-Oxford). A full committee hearing has not been calendared but can be expected soon.
Bill opponents include both open-borders groups and the big business lobby seeking to protect their supply of cheap labor.
Senator Garrett said, “I have always felt that allowing people to hire people in the country illegally in violation of federal law is unfair to almost everybody else … It’s unfair to other businesses who obey the law and have to compete with their competitors who are cutting their costs by hiring people who will work for substandard wages.”