Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill Wednesday that requires state agencies and institutions of higher education to use the federal electronic employment verification system known as E-Verify.
“This bill adds appropriate checks on the hiring of individuals not lawfully present in this nation by state agencies, incentivizes lawful immigration and assures taxpayers that their hard-earned dollars are being used responsibly,” Abbott said in a statement.
State agencies should have already been using the system; former Gov. Rick Perry issued an executive order in December mandating its use. The system, which is managed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, compares the information that potential workers submit to an employer on their I-9 — a federal document that collects employment eligibility information — to records maintained by the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration.
Abbott’s signature on Senate Bill 374 by state Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, means that state agencies will now have someone making sure they comply with the law. The bill grants that responsibility to the Texas Workforce Commission; Perry’s order did not have an enforcement mechanism.
Abbott's office said the Senate bill would override Perry's executive order.
Unlike Perry’s mandate, the Senate bill only applies to state agencies and not the companies that contract with them. It also specifies that only prospective employees can be verified through the system. Perry’s order initially created some confusion because he called for current and future employees to be verified. (Perry’s office subsequently sent an email clarifying that his measure only applied to new hires.)
The bill passed the Senate 20-11 on a party-line vote. It sailed through the House 122-21.