State government officials have agreed to hold off on enforcing a new Illinois law intended to limit employers from checking whether new hires are illegal immigrants

State government officials have agreed to hold off on enforcing a new Illinois law intended to limit employers from checking whether new hires are illegal immigrants.

The federal government sued the state in September, saying the law is illegal because it prevents Illinois employers from participating in the federal E-Verify program, which permits employers to check the legal status of new employees.

In papers filed last week in U.S. District Court in Springfield, both parties asked Judge Jeanne Scott to stay the suit for 60 days because a bill before the General Assembly could override the law, which is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1. She agreed to the stay on Friday.

The federal E-Verify program, also known as the Basic Pilot System, encourages — but does not require — employers to submit records to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to determine whether a new hire is an illegal immigrant. The records are compared with Social Security data and Homeland Security information, and according to the lawsuit, the worker’s legal status is verified within three days in 92 percent of the cases.

The state law, Public Act 095-0138, would prohibit Illinois employers from enrolling in any “employment eligibility verification systems” until the Social Security Administration or Homeland Security can determine a worker’s legality within three days in 99 percent of the cases.

It also would require employers to undergo training in the E-Verify/Basic Pilot System and require them to notify applicants that their legal status will be checked, among other requirements.

In joining the federal government to request a stay on the lawsuit, state officials said they would not pursue any legal action against employers who use the E-Verify/Basic Pilot System while the litigation is pending.

Scott granted the stay until Feb. 15.



Dana Heupel can be reached at (217) 788-1518 or dana.heupel@sj-r.com.