Sen. CervantesSPRINGFIELD – To allow residents working in Illinois to know for certain that their employment is safe, State Senator Javier Cervantes is working to pass legislation that will protect immigrant employees who are working legally within the United States.

“Currently, employers can use the E-Verify system to target and discriminate against immigrant employees, creating undue stress on their employment,” said Cervantes (D-Chicago). “When someone goes to work, they shouldn’t have to worry about their employer reporting them unknowingly and should be given some reasonable transparency to this process.”

Currently, federal immigration law requires employers to verify that their employees are lawfully authorized to work in the United States. Immigrants who are employed have the possibility of receiving a “no match” letter from the Social Security Administration for a variety of reasons such as name changes, work authorizations, employment visas and other bureaucratic errors. Usually, employers terminate employees who receive a “no match” letter even though these employees could be legally working in the United States.

To rectify this issue, Senate Bill 1515 allows employees who receive a “no match” letter from any federal or state agency to take 30 days of unpaid leave in order to fix and correct any discrepancies with the agency’s records. The new measure will also prohibit employers from terminating employees simply because they received a letter; however, if the errors are not corrected, the employer may terminate the employee.

“We want to continue to protect all residents working in the United States legally and ensure their employers are not allowed to abuse the verification system to harass and create stress on employees,” Cervantes said. “Before I became a public official, I spent about a decade fighting for fair labor rights so that marginalized groups of people could have a voice. Now as a state senator, I plan to continue this fight with Senate Bill 1515.”

Senate Bill 1515 was heard in committee on Wednesday and now heads to the floor for further deliberation.