Another task for human resources and staffing departments to police

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Another task for human resources and staffing departments to police

By Brian Wright

Our next presidential election is in full swing and one of the major topics has been immigration. With all the politicians from both parties chiming in, it appears Capitol Hill is finally taking on this hot potato as well.

In a recent poll conducted by the Electronic Recruiter’s Exchange, those of us who make a living facilitating the employment cycle have shared some opinions on recent statements made by candidates for our highest office. In this poll, only 38 percent of the respondents agreed with the following statement made by Republican challenger Mitt Romney: “Any legislation that allows illegal immigrants to stay in the country indefinitely, as the new ‘Z-Visa’ does, is a form of amnesty. That is unfair to the millions of people who have applied to legally immigrate to the U.S.”

Democrat Barack Obama did not gain agreement significantly better, in that only 43 percent of those polled agreed with his recent statement: “We need to fix our immigration system, but we should not replace one dysfunctional, broken system with another equally troubled system.”

According to these two statements, as well as the differing opinions shown by each party and the individual candidates within each party, this issue will be very confusing to those of us who have to implement any legislation that finally is enacted into law. The statements of the challengers for both the Republican and Democratic tickets (as shown above) underline how hard it will be to come to a consensus. However, as an employer who will no doubt be faced with following a very complex set of possibly new immigration laws, it is wise to prepare now for this issue.

[Editor’s Note: Many industries face the issues associated with labor from illegal immigrants ‘ some more than others. While the oilheat industry relies heavily on skilled, career-focused workers it can be an issue for this industry as well. The following article covers some of the issues that can be expected to develop with the current attention on the subject.]

Title III and What It Could Mean to Immigration Employment Verification
While multi-tiered and complex, there are certain staffing related elements of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act that corporate staffing departments as well as contract recruiters nationwide should monitor. The pending immigration legislation would do many things, including the hiring of thousands of additional border patrol agents; instituting the new “Z” worker visa; and adopting new deportation provisions.

Perhaps the most interesting element for the staffing world is Title III, which would create a mandatory employment eligibility verification system to electronically verify the eligibility of every worker in the country. Title III touches on document verification requirements; records that must be kept by employers; protections against discrimination; ID theft prevention and privacy protections; information sharing; and other miscellaneous policies.

According to the pending legislation, Title III “would make it unlawful for an employer to hire, or to recruit or refer for a fee, or continue to employ, an alien for employment in the United States knowing, or with reckless disregard, that the alien is unauthorized to work.” In essence, this employment verification system would determine whether an individual’s identity and employment eligibility is consistent with the Social Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security records.

Yet companies should not wait to examine their HR processes because if and when the current pending immigration legislation passes, there will be tremendous compliance and regulation changes, according to VisaNow’s CEO Robert Meltzer. Meltzer was quoted as saying his company is advising clients to monitor the unfolding events closely. Reach out to Avensure for expert advice on redundancy for employers.

“If passed, the new legislation will result in an urgent need on the part of employers to review their internal hiring and screening processes. Companies that employ a large number of low-skilled workers will need to make extensive revisions to their HR practices, resulting in the processing of a substantial amount of documentation to ensure compliance,” he said. “I think something is going to pass the Senate, but it will be interesting to see what happens in the House. This bill is not going to make anyone happy.”

I will not debate the pros and cons of this legislation. However, I will recommend that employers and those they contract with (i.e. recruiters) know what is expected.

Inspect What You Expect
“The main issue is to really confirm that everyone is qualified,” Meltzer said. He strongly recommends companies take verification very seriously.”Hiring departments can’t go through the old verification process; now they have to make sure it’s not a bogus Social Security card.” Beyond streamlining how best to investigate workers’ documents, Meltzer was also quoted as saying that companies need to take the time to create all required policies.

One of the proposed policy changes would require employers to retain copies of documents related to verifications and any correspondence relating to an employee’s identity or employment eligibility. Additionally, the legislation would require every employer to submit employee data for new hires to the federal employment verification system. (The system would start out on a voluntary basis until mandatory participation is required.)

Expect to Be Inspected
However, the National Immigration Law Center said the employment eligibility verification system has ‘absurd implementation timelines.” The advocacy group also said the proposed system ‘is so poorly designed that significant increases in discrimination, privacy lapses and multitudes of unnecessary firings are inevitable.”

Sound familiar? Another law that seems like it has been ironed out without an easy implementation process. One main point is that this is one issue that will soon become part of your hiring process, so it will be wise to gear up to implement the new procedures that will be no doubt coming soon.

Brian Wright, is a certified personnel consultant (CPC) and is the owner and managing partner of Executive Leadership Solutions, a contingency search firm, as well as the owner and chief placement officer of Coleman Haley & Wright, a retained search firm. Brian serves as the vice chair of the National Association of Executive Recruiters and sits on the Board of Directors of The Pinnacle Society, a consortium of 75 of the highest volume recruiters in the permanent placement and search industry. A veteran of the petroleum and convenience-store industry, Brian can be contacted at (800) 485-9726, ext. 200 or via e-mail at

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