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SPRINGFIELD – Continuing his advocacy for immigrant employees following the governor’s veto of Senate Bill 1515 earlier this summer, State Senator Javier Cervantes brought forth a new plan that would protect marginalized workers and give employees time to correct employment verification document discrepancies before an enforcement action is taken against them.

“Throughout my years working alongside labor and health care organizations, I have seen employees hurt by this process,” said Cervantes (D-Chicago). “In working with the governor’s office and advocacy groups, we are confident we have come up with a plan that will protect employees and work for everyone involved in the verification process.”

Currently, federal immigration law requires employers to verify the legal work status of their employees through the E-Verify system. E-Verify compares information from an employee’s I-9 Form to records available to the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration to confirm eligibility. If discrepancies are found, immigrant workers have the possibility of receiving a “no match” letter for a variety of reasons, including instances where the individual changed their name due to marriage. Many employers terminate employees who receive this notice, even though they could be legally working in the United States.

Senate Bill 508 would prevent employers from imposing work authorization verification requirements that are greater than those required by federal law and give employees time to correct documentation discrepancies. The new legislation would require employers, upon finding a discrepancy in verification information, to notify the employee that the federal or State agency has notified the employer and the time period the employee has to contest the information. The employee would be given an explanation of the discrepancy and retain the right to have a representative present for meetings related to employment verification. Employers would be barred from taking any adverse action against the employee based on the notification.

Senate Bill 508 would also require employers to notify each employee of upcoming inspections of employment records from federal entities such as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement within five business days of the employer receiving notice – both in English and any language commonly used in the workplace. Upon receipt of the results of an employment records inspection, employees would retain the right to correct discrepancies within a designated time period and the right to have a representative present during any meetings with the employer.

“I am passionate about protecting folks who work and live legally in Illinois and follow all the rules to ensure their right to work,” Cervantes said. “Advancing this legislation marks a significant step toward protecting employees working legally in Illinois who may be fearful of their job security.”

Senate Bill 508 passed the Senate Floor on Tuesday and heads to the House for further consideration.