According to a new immigration report  from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), the 50 states and Puerto Rico have introduced a record 1,538 bills and resolutions relating to immigrants and refugees in the first quarter of 2011. This number surpasses the first quarter of 2010 by 358.

In Texas, multiple bills filed were this session that would have required employers in the state to use the federal electronic verification system known as E-Verify. Gov. Rick Perry also stated during his State of the State address in February, that he’d like to see legislation that would create criminal penalties for employers who hire illegal immigrants.

Although several bills were filed relating to E-Verify only a few were heard in committee with no bill ever making it to the floor for any further debate or vote.  Byron Cook, Chairman of the House State Affairs Committee, where the E-Verify bills were heard, felt lawmakers on both sides of the aisle shared concerns about the accuracy of the program as it can flag an individual as ineligible in error.  He said he would recommend an interim study to evaluate the effectiveness of the system.

The U.S. Citizen and Immigrant Services manages the E-Verify system, which compares the information potential workers submit to an employer on their I-9 — a federal form for collecting employment-eligibility information — to records maintained by the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration.

The E-verify discussion also continues on the federal level as well.  In June, Congressman Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, filed federal legislation, Legal Workforce Act, and held a hearing on the measure that would, among other things, phase in the requirement that businesses use E-Verify, which is already mandatory for federal contractors and subcontractors.  President Obama has said he supports the system if it is part of broader reform measures.