PHOENIX -- Arizona is one of a handful of states to currently require all employers to check the immigration status of potential hires, but that could soon change.
The Legal Workforce Act would make using the online employment verification program E-Verify a national mandate.
The bill passed a House committee last week and now heads to the House floor for debate.
Its primary sponsor is Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who wrote in an editorial for The Hill: "A federal E-Verify law could open up job opportunities for these unemployed Americans while eliminating the jobs magnet that draws millions of illegal workers to the U.S."
Critics say the program would do the opposite, costing employers unnecessary time and money.
"The system fails more often than it works," said Alex Nowrasteh, a conservative policy analyst with the Washington D.C. Competitive Enterprise Institute. "Fifty-four percent of undocumented immigrants that get checked by E-Verify system are not identified as undocumented immigrants."
Nowrasteh says one of the problems is that undocumented workers often use fake identification to beat the system.
Such was the case with Cristino Torres-Romero, who was arrested Friday and charged in the hit-and-run that killed Valley real estate developer Daniel Pollack.
According to court paperwork, Torres-Romero assumed the fake identity "Benito Valles, Junior." He used that ID to get a job at a Tempe California Pizza Kitchen.
The company released the following statement:
"California Pizza Kitchen is committed to complying with all state and federal immigration laws. We use the federal government’s E-Verify program and require that individuals provide valid documentation when confirming the work eligibility of all new hires. CPK does not knowingly or intentionally employ undocumented workers. "