In a concession to business groups, the Homeland Security Department will significantly scale back its planned crackdown this winter on federal contractors that hire illegal immigrants, reports the Washington Post. The agency said only contractors that do more than $100,000 in federal work will be required to use an electronic government system to check the work documents of new hires. Originally, officials had proposed that companies doing $3,000 in federal work must comply. The agency also said it would require federal contractors to check only laborers used on specific contracts, instead of their entire workforce.
The revisions significantly reduce the number of companies that will be subject to the program, which will apply to federal contracts and solicitations issued after Jan. 15. The Bush administration had hoped to make the work eligibility system, called E-Verify, mandatory for nearly 200,000 government contractors, covering about 4 million U.S. workers over 10 years. The change came after months of intense lobbying by business groups, which argued that the requirement singled out contractors, was unduly burdensome and was so big that it would overwhelm the government system.