Timeline of E-Verify at Northwestern University 


2008
Northwestern University (NU) decides to implement E-Verify for all current and new employees.  This requires everyone to submit extensive personal information to NU for input  into a Department of Homeland Security database.  No federal or state law obligated this campus-wide enrollment. Peer institutions in Illinois and nationwide were and are using E-Verify only for employees directly employed by a federal grant or contract.  Here is a link to the federal regulation for the program, 48 CFR 22.1802.

2009
E-Verify queued up to be implemented with no formal review by faculty governing body.  Human Resources and administrators made statements to concerned faculty that turned out to be misleading or were false. (Current NU Faculty Senate was being formed and predecessor "General Faculty Committee" did not act on their concerns.)

January 26, 2010
NU begins unnecessary university-wide employee enrollment.  Falsely implies university-wide enrollment is necessary to "comply with federal contractor regulation."  The regulation specifically exempts universities from compliance with the exception of those whose employment is tied to a specific federal contract.  Here's the explanation on NU's website now:

Northwestern's Participation in the E-Verify Program

Northwestern enrolled in the E-Verify program to comply with the federal contractor regulation. Northwestern University is a research institution and non-compliance with this program could result in suspending or debarring of federal contracts. Northwestern began using E-Verify and electronic I-9s on January 26, 2010. As of that date, paper I-9s are no longer accepted by the university for any new hires.

The truth, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, is that the vast majority of NU's employees were never required to enroll.  

4.0 CERTAIN ORGANIZATIONS THAT QUALIFY FOR EXCEPTIONS The E-Verify federal contractor rule generally requires use of E-Verify for all new employees, regardless of whether they are assigned to a federal contract. However, the following organizations awarded a federal contract that includes the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) E-Verify clause are only required to use E-Verify for new hires and existing non-exempt employees who are working directly under a covered contract: • State and local governments • Institutions of higher education (as defined at 20 U.S.C. 1001(a)) • Governments of federally recognized Indian tribes • Sureties performing under a takeover agreement entered into with a federal agency under a performance bond Example: A city government has a federal contract that includes the FAR E-Verify clause. After the E-Verify federal contractor rule implementation date, it hired Doris to work on a contract containing the FAR E-Verify clause and hired Frank to work on a project that is not part of a federal contract. The city government need only verify new and existing employees assigned to a qualifying federal contract. Therefore, the city government must use E-Verify to verify Doris, but is not required to verify Frank. The city is not required to verify anyone else on the staff not working on the federal contract, but may choose to verify the entire staff (except for those employees who are exempt).
(From USCIS E-Verify Guide to Federal Contractor Compliance p. 18, emphasis added).  

For more on other information withheld or misstated to NU employees, about the management of employee retirement funds, please go here.
2015
Northwestern mandates graduate students who receive stipends to register through E-Verify.
Peer institutions, including University of Chicago, continue not to require their students register with Homeland Security through E-Verify unless obligated by a specific federal grant or contract.

2016 to April, 2018
President Schapiro and other NU officers disregard requests from faculty and students to end E-Verify campus-wide, continue to insist they must do this because they have federal contracts.  


November 14, 2016
NU faculty, staff and students send letter to President Schapiro, then-Provost Daniel Linzer, Vice President for Student Affairs Patricia Telles-Irvin, and Philip Harris, Vice President and General Counsel, requesting Northwestern University provide sanctuary to undocumented students, workers, and their families and requesting that NU not report student citizenship status to the federal government.

November 18, 2016
In wake of NU announcing commitment to undocumented students, Director of Deportation Research Clinic publishes letter in Daily Northwestern asking President Schapiro to end campus-wide use of E-Verify.

May 16, 2017
Students take direct action in response to on-campus presence of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement public relations officer.

May 25, 2017
Coalition of Students for Immigrant Justice release listof demands in response to University's statement condemning May 16 student action and University's failure to support  undocumented members of campus community and students of color.  Among the demands is to halt NU's voluntary participation in E-Verify.

April 24, 2018
Students Organizing for Labor Rights sends NU President
petition signed by over 1,000 Northwestern students demanding protections of NU workers during transition to Compass as new food services vendor, including not requiring their employees to use E-Verify and for NU to end E-Verify campus-wide.

April 25, 2018

Students Organizing for Labor Rights and Professor Jacqueline Stevens meet with General Counsel Philip Harris and Deputy General Counsel Stephanie Graham. Harris agrees that NU must use E-Verify only for those employed directly by federal grants and contracts.  Parties agree that Human Resources will follow up.  


May 3, 2018
Letter to Northwestern Daily from students on hypocrisy in statements by Provost Holloway on university's co-optation of Bursar's Office Takeover, students demand action.


May 7, 2018
Faculty Senate Executive Committee sends resolution for NU to end campus-wide enrollment to Committee on Social Responsibility for study and recommendation.

May 17, 2018
Student activists from Black Lives Matter NU, Latinx Asian American Collective, and Students Organizing for Labor Rights meet with Provost Holloway.  Provost Holloway states that on May 14 General Counsel Philip Harris informed administrators that ending E-Verify campus-wide is possible only after all of the university's current federal contracts expire and that the University likely does not have a collected record of all of its federal contracts.
 The inconsistency with plain text of regulation and previous statement by General Counsel Harris on April 25 are not explained.  No explanation is provided as to why NU is seemingly unable to enroll in E-Verify only those working directly on federal grants or contracts, while peer institutions have been doing this for years.

May 20, 2018
Chief Human Resource Officer Pamela Beemer in e-mail reiterates analysis Provost Holloway shared with students and provides list of other universities that use E-Verify campus-wide.  However, 10 out of the 12 are in states that obligate employers participate in E-Verify, such as Arizona. (The two remaining are Ohio State University and University of Maryland.) Unike Arizona, for instance, Illinois public policy disfavors use of E-Verify.  NU has claimed it supports DACA students and joined other universities filing amicus briefs to preserve their legal status.  President Schapiro and Provost Holloway continue to authorize a program that NU's own legal staff have acknowledged puts DACA students at great risk.    

May 23, 2018
General Counsel Philip Harris sends pdf from USCIS "E-Verify Supplemental Guide for Federal Contractors."  Harris writes "...once an employer elects to verify its entire workforce, and has begun verifying existing employees, it is not permitted to change its selection during the duration of the federal contract."  

Harris mischaracterizes Guide.  Advisal is specific to "a company," or "your company," not "employer."  
NU, according to the regulation, is an "institution of higher education" not a "company."  
The regulation does not exempt "companies," but it does exempt "a State or local government or the Government of a federally recognized Indian tribe." And, of course, the regulation exempts "institutions of higher education."  (Further, in the case of any conflict between a regulation and ad hoc guides that have not gone through a rule-making process, the plain text of the regulation prevails.)  

Harris alleges that "Timeline of E-Verify at Northwestern University" mischaracterizes the status of E-Verify laws in states with universities referenced by Ms. Beemer.  Here are the links to the laws on which the claims were based: List of the universities using E-Verify campus-wide provided by Pam Beemer, NU Vice-President, Chief Human Resources Officer, along with links to relevant state laws for claims on Timeline (May 20, 2018). 

Harris also claimed in his e-mail that NU started E-Verify because of  "strategic goal of increasing [University's] federal research funding, by demonstrating that it was a company with a legal workforce."  

According to information online, six of eight Ivy League universities with esteemed research profiles and major recipients of federal research funding do not use E-Verify campus-wide. 

Stevens in email asks Harris for copies of Memorandums of Understanding between NU and USCIS for the implementation and renewals of E-Verify.  
Stevens affirms accuracy of other information in Timeline based on notes by students who attended meetings with administrators, including April 25.

May 24, 2018
Harris does not provide additional information requested, including Memorandums of Understanding. Harris writes: "I believe that ample information has been provided."

October 22, 2018
Stevens releases the Memorandums of Understanding Harris wanted to keep secret, obtained after FOIA litigation.  
They confirm that NU can withdraw campus workforce not on federal grants after 30 day notice.  (An additional five pages of Excel sheets also were to be released and were not included by error.  USCIS is now sending them and they will be added when received.)

Stevens also releases USCIS spreadsheet revealing Northwestern among the fewer than 1% of certificate or degree granting institutions that signed MOUs to participate in E-Verify campuswide.