The State of Alabama has passed what some have considered one of the toughest immigration laws in the country. The law was passed initially by a large voting margin and comes in the wake of the recent United States Supreme Court ruling on the Arizona's Legal Worker's Act of 2007 that sanctions businesses for hiring undocumented workers. Businesses in Arizona face fines and even loss of business license for repeated offenses.
As with the Arizona law, the new Alabama statute mandates that businesses use the E-Verify or I-9 system to confirm where job applicants are eligible for legal employment in the United States. It would also be a crime to knowingly transport or harbor someone who is in the country illegally. As with Arizona SB 1070 law enforcement personnel will have the right to ask for documentation if they suspect someone is not in the country legally.
One problem with the E-Verify system is that the employer first has to formally offer the applicant the job before conducting the I-9. This can place the employer in an awkward position. If the candidate proves ineligible, the employer may now sit and read to the ineligible employee his rights. If the ineligible employee cannot understand English, then the employer should read the applicant's rights in, presumably, Spanish or the applicant's native language.
While we are designated agents for the E-Verify system, we suggest to our clients that they first conduct the Social Security Trace on the applicant. The Social Security Trace can be utilized as a pre-employment background check. for the most part the Social Security Check will determine if that is a valid social security number and if it belongs to the employment candidate. If the trace proves valid, then the employer can move forward by offering the job and conducting the E-Verify or I-9. Overall, the Social Security Trace, which returns in seconds, may prove far less time consuming than running up front the E-Verify, discovering the applicant is ineligible to work in the United States, and then sitting down and reading him his rights to contest the I-9 results.
As with the Arizona statute, those employers in Alabama who fail to comply with the new immigration laws risk fines and possible business closure.