Feds launch E-Verify to check workers’ legal status – Houston Chronicle

Ceola Curley, the owner of a Houston construction company, hopes to compete for a minimum $200,000 federal contract to replace air handling units at the Houston air traffic control center.

But just knowing about plug valves and water coil connections won’t get him the job these days.

A new regulation took effect this week requiring companies awarded federal contracts to enroll in the U.S. government’s E-Verify system, a Web-based program that allows employers to check that new hires are legally authorized to work in the U.S. Within 90 days of enrolling, federal contractors will have to run all new hires and any workers assigned to the government project through the database.

An estimated 9,000 federal contractors and 139,000 other U.S. companies had enrolled in E-Verify as of Tuesday, said Bill Wright, a spokesman for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, which administers E-Verify.

Some 7,624 Texas businesses are enrolled in the program, USCIS data shows. Participation in the program is generally voluntary, although a handful of states require companies to enroll in E-Verify.