(NASHVILLE, TN), June 8, 2011 – Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has signed into law legislation sponsored by State Senators Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville), Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro), Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) and Representative Joe Carr (R-Murfreesboro) calling for Tennessee employers to use the “E-Verify” system to ensure that new hires are in the state legally.
“This new law helps to ensure that those working in Tennessee are here legally,” said Senator Tracy. “Illegal immigration impacts Tennesseans in many ways, including our unemployment rate, the impact on taxpayers for services and national security concerns. We must begin to address this problem and this legislation is a big step in the right direction towards that goal.”
The legislation requires businesses with over five employees to obtain a copy of a new employee’s driver’s license or utilize the E-Verify system, but provides a safe harbor for employers who use E-Verify if the worker is later found to be in the country illegally. E-Verify, an Internet-based system operated by the Department of Homeland Security in partnership with the Social Security Administration, allows participating employers to electronically verify the employment eligibility of their newly hired employees by entering their name and a social security number. It is free to employers in all 50 states, including Tennessee where more than 4,000 businesses have voluntarily participated in the system. The E-Verify system is 97.4 percent accurate.
The signing of the new Tennessee law comes after the Supreme Court ruled in May in favor of an Arizona law that requires businesses to verify the employment eligibility with E-Verify. The practical effect of the decision is to uphold the right of states to require employers to use the E-Verify program.
“There are more than 140,000 illegal immigrants in Tennessee, with over 110,000 in the state’s workforce according to conservative estimates,” added Tracy. “I am very pleased this bill has been signed into law.”