The Missouri Special Committee on Employment Security passed House Bill 264 this week to require all employers in Missouri to use E-Verify to verify that new employees are authorized to work in the United States. E-Verify is a free, federally run program, operated online, that allows employers to electronically verify the Social Security numbers of new hires with existing federal government records. First created by Congress in 1996, the optional program has a 99.7 percent accuracy rate, but has been adopted as mandatory by a number of states.

Representative Rick Brattin (R) introduced HB 264 late last year to address illegal immigration in Missouri. Current Missouri law only requires employers that contract with the state or receive tax breaks or other state grants to use E-Verify. In addition to expanding the E-Verify use to all employers, HB 264 would also increase the penalties for employers who knowingly hire unauthorized workers.

Mandatory E-Verify is a common-sense reform measure to ensure American citizens and immigrants with work authorization have first pick at jobs in the state. Additionally, across the board E-Verify use can help eliminate the number one draw of illegal immigration into the United States. Cost should be no barrier to employers who are required or choose to use the free, web-based program. Administrative costs should also be negligible because employers are already required by federal law to verify the work authorization of newly hired employees using the federal I-9 process, and the E-Verify program itself takes mere minutes to run.

The full House of Representatives must vote for HB 264 before it can be sent to the Senate for consideration. If passed by the General Assembly, Governor Eric Greitens (R) must sign the bill before it can become law.