November 13, 2009 S.C. immigration law working Nearly every business that’s been audited so far is complying with South Carolina’s new requirement to verify the immigration status of its employees using, among other options, the federal E-Verify system. The data, from about 600 businesses so far, is proof that the state’s new immigration law is working. It also begs for the federal government to make E-Verify permanent. According to a report in Monday’s Greenville News , 97 percent of the businesses audited have complied with the state’s immigration law that went into effect last July. Sixteen businesses were cited for not complying with the law and were levied fines totaling more than $60,000. Most of those fines were waived, however, as the businesses complied within the mandated 72-hour period. The new law requires businesses to verify employees’ work status using E-verify, a South Carolina driver’s license, or a driver’s license from one of 26 approved states. The system went into effect in July for businesses that have more than 100 employees and in this coming July will be in place with businesses that have fewer than 100 employees. The checks that have been done so far account for roughly one-quarter of the estimated 2,500 businesses in the state with more than 100 employees, according to the newspaper report. As Sen. Larry Martin said in the News report, “It really demonstrates how well E-Verify is working and the need for Congress to continue the E-Verify system.” E-Verify has proven an effective way verify the immigration status of potential employees. And the potency of South Carolina’s new immigration law depends upon this effective federal program that has become a political bargaining chip over the past few years. Congress late in October voted to extend the program for three years as part of the recently passed — and signed — Homeland Security spending bill. The extension is a positive step, especially for states like South Carolina where E-Verify is an integral part of ensuring workers are not hiring illegal immigrants. This is essential because illegal labor displaces Americans and legal residents from the work force, drives down wages and puts illegal immigrants in danger of being exploited by unscrupulous employers. While the three-year extension of E-Verify is positive, it is essential that during the next three years lawmakers from South Carolina and other states that rely upon E-Verify work diligently toward making this important tool permanent. This will be especially important as the American economy begins to recover and millions of unemployed Americans seek jobs to sustain their families.
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