Illinois Act deemed invalid by U.S. District Court

E-Verify is a federal program in which employers may voluntarily sign up electronically to be able to identify the employment eligibility of new hires against federal databases in a matter of minutes. How it works: An employer requests that a new hire complete Form I-9, and with the information provided on the form, and the documentation needed to prove eligibility, the employer manually enters the information into the E-Verify database. Two things may occur once this takes place: (1) the employer receives confirmation that the new hire is authorized to work in the United States; or (2) a tentative non-confirmation (TNC) is issued, indicating that the federal program cannot identify that the new hire is authorized to work in the United States. If a TNC is issued, the employer must provide the applicant with information and guidance on how to resolve the issue, and a secondary verification process must occur within ten days before a final determination is made on the applicant’s employment eligibility.

The State of Illinois created legislation in regards to the passage of the Employment Eligibility Verification Program, otherwise known as “E-Verify.” In summary, the Illinois Act provides that employers are prohibited from enrolling in any Employment Eligibility Verification System, including the Basic Pilot program, until the Social Security Administration (SSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) databases are able to make a determination on 99% of the tentative nonconfirmation notices issued to employes within three days, unless otherwise required by federal law.

At issue is whether the Illinois Act is invalid under the Supremacy Clause of the United States.

State laws are invalid under the Supremacy Clause if the state law “stands as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress.” Congress put the federal program in place as a means to verify the employment eligibility of new hires. The federal statute states that any employer may participate. The problem lies with the fact that Illinois has enacted legislation to prohibit employers from utilizing the program. As such, the District Court provided that the Illinois Act frustrates Congress’ purpose by prohibiting Illinois employers from participating in the Federal program unless the Federal program meets Illinois’ standards for accuracy and speed. Illinois cannot dictate to Congress the standards that federal programs must meet. This clearly frustrates the Congressional purpose of making the Federal program available to all employers. Accordingly, the Illinois Act is invalid under the Supremacy Clause, and the State of Illinois is permanently enjoined from enforcing the invalid act.