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Eli Kantor is a labor, employment and immigration law attorney. He has been practicing labor, employment and immigration law for more than 36 years. He has been featured in articles about labor, employment and immigration law in the L.A. Times, Business Week.com and Daily Variety. He is a regular columnist for the Daily Journal. Telephone (310)274-8216; eli@elikantorlaw.com. For more information, visit beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com and and beverlyhillsemploymentlaw.com

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Friday, March 16, 2012

E-Verify Ready for Expansion, but Not Nationwide

CQ: The head of Citizenship and Immigration Services said Thursday that the online employment eligibility checking system known as E-Verify has the capacity to grow, but it isn't ready for the nationwide mandate some lawmakers want to see.

"We have the capacity, currently, to process far more queries than we handle, and so we can right now handle the expansion of E-Verify to additional states, but if it was mandated across the country it would take us some time to ramp up for that exponentially greater volume," director Alejandro Mayorkas told reporters.

Arizona, Alabama, Mississippi and South Carolina all have laws in place requiring public and private entities to check the status of new hires through E-Verify, and Utah has a statute requiring the same for companies with more than 15 employees. Nearly a dozen other states have more limited requirements in place.

Lawmakers, however, have pressed for years for the Department of Homeland Security to take the system nationwide, for all employers, calling it a crucial step for immigration enforcement. DHS has maintained that while it has been working to expand the system, it is not ready for such an influx of users.

If Congress decides to pass a mandate, Mayorkas said, his agency would also get a deadline for bringing the system up to national capacity.

"How much time is really a function of the specifics of legislation . . . but we would need some time," he said.

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