Approximately 300 employees of the federal E-Verify program who have been furloughed due to the partial government shutdown will be able to return to work Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security announced late Monday.
The returning employees will be assigned to work temporarily on non-E-Verify related tasks until Congress approves funding for the program, which is meant to prevent illegal immigrants from gaining legal employment by comparing their identifying information against data gathered by DHS or the Social Security Administration.
"[U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services] is fortunate that our highly trained and experienced E-Verify staff are returning to help support the agency’s mission in other capacities until their program is fully functional," spokesman Michael Bars said in a statement. "We’re thankful for their patience and flexibility during this time."
The employees will return to work exactly one month after the start of the partial government shutdown, which has resulted from a lapse in funding for nine of the 15 Cabinet-level departments, including DHS. The stalemate stems from President Trump's demand that Congress allocate $5.7 billion to construct a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Congressional Democrats repeatedly have refused to allocate any new funding for the wall and have pushed legislation that would provide an additional $1.3 billion for border security — including 75 more immigration judges and infrastructure improvements — but no funding for the wall.
Over the weekend, Trump offered to provide temporary protections for some immigrants in exchange for wall funding, an idea that Democrats roundly rejected.
An estimated 460,000 federal employees have been working without pay, including Transportation Security Administration screeners at airports. Last week, the Internal Revenue Service announced that it had recalled approximately 46,000 furloughed employees to assist in processing tax returns and refunds.
Last week, Trump signed legislation guaranteeing back pay for federal workers who have been furloughed or forced to work without pay during the partial shutdown.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.