Texas Gov. Rick Perry issued an order Wednesday that calls for all state agencies, and the contractors that do business with them, to begin using E-Verify immediately to prevent the hiring of illegal workers.
The announcement comes shortly after President Barack Obama’s executive order on immigration that could spare as many as 5 million people living illegally in the United States from deportation – an order Perry and other Texas leaders have come out strongly against.
“The E-Verify system has been improved, it’s been streamlined and it currently is the most accurate and efficient way to check a person’s legal work in the United States,” Perry said. “Though any steps taken at the state level must be backed up by a real federal commitment to fixing a broken system.”
First created in 1997, but restructured in 2007, E-Verify compares information from an employee’s Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 to data from federal government records. If the information matches, that employee is eligible to work in the United States.
If there is a mismatch, E-Verify alerts the employer and the employee is allowed to work while he or she resolves the problem; together, they must contact the appropriate agency to resolve the mismatch within eight federal government workdays from the referral date. The Department of Homeland Security, in partnership with Social Security Administration, run the program.
Perry previously criticized the program for being ineffective, but changed his opinion Wednesday, saying, “They’ve improved the program in a number of ways. It is now a program that we thinks works, and it’s the reason we ask all these state agencies to use it.”
Perry, along with Texas Gov.-elect Greg Abbott, have led a charge against Obama’s immigration order. Texas is leading a group of 17 states suing the Obama administration over the president’s executive actions on immigration.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Texas Wednesday and names the heads of the top immigration enforcement agencies as defendants.
“In Texas we know firsthand the problems brought by illegal immigration and bad federal policy,” Perry said previously in a statement. “As we saw with the tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors who came across the border, a bad policy led to children being put at risk. The president’s decision tonight will lead to more illegal immigration, not less. It is time for the president and Congress to secure our border, followed by meaningful reforms. There is no more time for political grandstanding.”
The use of E-Verify will be significant for the Texas government based on its size. With more than 100,000 government employees and a small army of contractors supporting them, Texas features one of the largest state government workforces in the country.
Perry will cede control of the state’s governorship in the New Year after deciding not to run for re-election this past November. He has been governor since 2000 – the longest serving one in the nation – since replacing George W. Bush when he became president.