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Several organizations, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Society for Human Resource Management and Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc., have joined suit against Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Michael Chertoff and the U.S. federal government in an attempt to halt a new DHS final rule that goes into effect on January 15, 2009. The rule requires federal contractors and their subcontractors to enroll in and use the E-Verify program to verify the work eligibility of their new employees as well as those employees already working on government contracts.

The complaint, filed December 23 in the U.S. District Court for Maryland’s Southern Division, alleges that the rule violates the very statute authorizing the E-Verify program in the first place, which provides that "the Secretary of Homeland Security may not require any person or other entity to participate in a pilot program" such as E-Verify. The lawsuit requests that the DHS regulation be declared null and void and that the court enjoin it from going into effect.

We will continue to provide you with the latest news as this lawsuit develops. In the meantime, it is important to remember that the federal contractor final rule still goes into effect on January 15, 2009, and we encourage all of our clients to take the steps necessary to be in full compliance. Our immigration attorneys are available to explain the final rule and the E-Verify program in more detail, including how they may affect your business.