The House Immigration Subcommittee on Thursday held its second hearing on the employment screening program E-Verify, titled “Preserving Jobs for American Workers.”

Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed in January an executive order requiring all state agencies and companies that contract with state agencies to screen employees using the E-Verify system. And state Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla filed Senate Bill 518 to require every employer to use the “Employment Authorization Program.”

Floridians for Immigration Enforcement, a Pompano-based organization that strongly supports S.B. 518, writes:

Through the pro-enforcement principal of  ‘Attrition by Enforcement’ when jobs are not available they will self-deport to their home country or flee to another state. The tremendous benefit of E-Verify is that it will apply over time not only to the existing unlawful population but will serve as a preventative measure and deterrent to future unlawful entrants. E-Verify is non-discriminatory as all new hires must be verified.

While E-Verify is highly accurate, the system can be circumvented by fraudulent documents. As Florida ranks 6th in the nation for identity theft, FLIMEN is calling upon the state to launch an aggressive and visible campaign against identity theft under existing Florida statute.

An Immigration Policy Center press release issued on Thursday states:

Some members of Congress persist in their belief that expanding E-Verify and making it mandatory is a magic-bullet solution to our immigration woes. However, data and analysis demonstrate that expanding E-Verify now would actually have harmful consequences for U.S. workers, employers, and the economy.

According to the center:

E-Verify is a compliance mechanism. But, somewhere along the way, it became confused with a deportation strategy.  Calls for mandatory E-Verify tend to portray the program as a solution to our illegal immigration problem, and a way to generate jobs for unemployed Americans.

Mandatory E-Verify without comprehensive immigration reform will not end illegal immigration, free up jobs for unemployed Americans, or save the country money. In fact, studies of E-Verify predict the opposite.

The center highlights that:

  • E-Verify alone will not force unauthorized workers to leave the country.
  • E-Verify cannot detect all unauthorized workers and employers can hire unauthorized workers in the underground economy.
  • Expansion of E-Verify will not create jobs for U.S. citizens — and may put some U.S. citizens out of a job.
  • E-Verify is expensive for businesses, stretching their resources and limiting their ability to hire more workers.
  • Further expansion of E-Verify will cost the government and U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars.

The merits and errors of E-Verify are under scrutiny. The U.S Government Accountability Office issued a report in December 2010 that states:

Since GAO last testified in June 2008, USCIS has taken several steps to improve the accuracy of the E-Verify system, including expanding the number of databases queried through E-Verify and instituting quality control procedures. As a result, USCIS data indicate that E-Verify immediately confirmed about 97.4 percent of almost 8.2 million newly hired employees as work authorized during fiscal year 2009, compared to 92 percent from fiscal year 2006 to the second quarter of fiscal year 2007. However, E-Verify errors persist.

The Independent reported this week that a Migration Policy Institute report highlights some of the same data and concludes that extending the use of the E-Verify employment program at the federal level may cause more harm to U.S. workers and the economy than it would deter illegal immigration.

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