Senate panel rejects E-Verify changes

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday rejected a proposal requiring the government to implement the E-Verify program to combat illegal immigration 18 months after enactment of immigration reform.

Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin HatchPublic lands dispute costs Utah a major trade show Overnight Tech: GOP chairman to propose high-skilled visa overhaul | Zuckerberg's 5,700 word letter | Tech lobbies gear up ahead of internet fight Overnight Cybersecurity: Trump vows to punish leakers | Cyber steers clear of tech versus Trump fight MORE (R-Utah) joined two Republican members of the Gang of Eight, Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamTrump’s feud with the press in the spotlight Senators eye new sanctions against Iran Republicans play clean up on Trump's foreign policy MORE (S.C.) and Jeff FlakeJeff FlakeOvernight Tech: GOP chairman to propose high-skilled visa overhaul | Zuckerberg's 5,700 word letter | Tech lobbies gear up ahead of internet fight Senate Dem blasts GOP for trying to repeal broadband privacy rules Planned Parenthood targets GOP lawmakers amid ObamaCare protests MORE (Ariz.), and 10 Democrats to defeat the amendment.

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Republicans who voted for the proposal argued that E-Verify is an important catchall enforcement program to cover gaps in border security and visa tracking.

Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyFlynn told FBI he didn't talk sanctions with Russian envoy: report Gorsuch hearing date set for March 20 Judiciary Committee wants briefing, documents on Flynn resignation MORE (Iowa), the ranking Republican on the Judiciary panel and sponsor of the amendment, complained the comprehensive immigration reform bill does not make the E-Verify program mandatory for years.

Sen. Charles SchumerCharles SchumerOvernight Cybersecurity: Trump defends Flynn, blasts leaks | Yahoo fears further breach Overnight Finance: Trump's Labor pick withdraws | Ryan tries to save tax plan | Trump pushes tax reform with retailers Democrats declare victory after Puzder bows out MORE (N.Y.), the lead Democratic sponsor of the bill, said an 18-month timeline for implementing the E-Verify program is unworkable.

“We all want E-Verify to work as quickly as possible. The problem is, it would be virtually impossible to have it work in 18 months. The system is going to have to add in 5 million employers because, as we all know, it is not mandatory right now,” said Schumer. “Right now it can handle about 180,000 registrations a year, so you can imagine the burden of 5 million.”

E-Verify is an Internet-based system that allows businesses to verify the legal status and work eligibility of prospective employees.

The Judiciary panel also rejected a Grassley amendment to delay the preemption of state and local laws to enforce employment eligibility verification until all employers are required to use the national E-Verify system.