The mandate of an E-verify system on Alabama was not on the talking points memo for the supporters of the Anti-immigrant. However, some discussion of E-verify should have been included:

That is the cornerstone of the entire legislation,” said House Majority Leader Micky Hammon, R-Decatur, one of the framers of the law.

Note: Every business is required to enroll in E-verify; there is no small business exception like the North Carolina version.

To cut down a real backlash from small business owners, the Republicans created a new service:

Section 26: The Alabama Department of Homeland Security shall establish and maintain an E-Verify employer agent service for any business entity or employer in this state with 25 or fewer employees to use the E-Verify program to verify an employee’s employment eligibility on behalf of the business entity or employer. The Alabama Department of Homeland Security shall establish an E-Verify employer agent account with the United States Department of Homeland Security, shall enroll a participating business entity or employer in the E-Verify program on its behalf. . . . The Alabama Department of Homeland Security shall not charge a fee to a participating business entity or employer for this service.

Instead of directly enrolling in E-verify, these businesses will provide the information to Homeland Security. Accordingly, instead of doing public safety, the Alabama Department of Homeland Defense will become a HR department and enroll the 80,000 firms, or 91 percent of all Alaba­ma businesses, potentially in the federal E-verify program for them.

In a day that we are closing courts for lack of funding and eliminating other essential services, the Republican Legislature just created a taxpayer-funded,  incredibly time-consuming service. Initially, the “service” will actually enroll the 80,000 business into the federal E-verify system which means collecting and accurately entering the following for each and every company:

  • the I-9 information for every employee of the company,
  • the company name,
  • the physical address of the company,
  • the company mailing address,
  • the  employer identification number (also called a federal tax ID number),
  • the total number of employees for all of your company’s hiring sites that will participate in E-Verify,
  • the first three digits of your company’s North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code,
  • the number of hiring sites that will participate in E-Verify,
  • whether the company is a federal contractor and whether you are enrolling your company because it has a covered federal contract with the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) clause requiring use of E-Verify M-776 Supplemental-2,
  • and contact information for the company’s memorandum of understanding (MOU) signatory (name, phone number, fax number (optional) and e-mail address),

Needless to say, that will take a many man-hours and will require dozens of employees. However, there is more. If any of the information listed above changes after the company is enrolled in E-Verify, it must notify “the service” and the “the service” is responsible for managing and updating the account in E-Verify. So, every time one of these 80,000 employers hires someone new after enrollment, the “service” will have three days to properly update the federal E-verify account.

[Private companies do provide this service also for a fee. They sometimes charge: $50 for set-up, a continuing $25 annual fee, and $7.50 for every employee or new new hire.  But now, the Department of Homeland Security will do this for free (to the businesses, not the taxpayer.)]

Small problem: the Legislature forgot to fund this new program in the budget; no money was designated for these additional services. According to this Montgomery Advertiser article,

The challenge for the de­partment, Collier said, is money. The law did not allo­cate money to Homeland Se­curity to implement the pro­gram, and prohibits the Department from charging fees to enroll businesses. Homeland Security receives about $5 million a year in federal funding, but 80 per­cent of those funds must be spent locally, and Collier said he doesn’t believe they can be spent on E-Verify.

“We have very strict guidelines on expenditure of state Homeland Security funds, and I haven’t seen anything to allow that ex­pense,” Collier said.

That will leave the depart­ment to fall back on its mea­ger budget to set up the service. Asked if Homeland Security will need more money to set up the service, Collier said “Yes.”

“This is statute now, and we are going to do every­thing in our power to carry out the statutory responsibil­ities we have been given,” he said.

By the way, Homeland Defense has 90 days to get this service up and running.

How is that for responsible budgeting!