A Migration Policy Institute report released Tuesday 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. #ices, ”E-Verify is an Internet-based system that allows businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States. E-Verify is fast, free, and easy to use – and it’s the best way employers can ensure a legal workforce.”
The Migration Policy report states that “after five years of dramatic growth is unclear how E-Verify affects hiring practices, especially in industries that rely more heavily on foreign workers.” (See the full report below.)
The report indicates that as of January 2011, a little more than 11,000 Florida employers are enrolled in the program. Over 240,000 are enrolled across the U.S.
On his first day in office, Gov. Rick Scott signed an executive order requiring all state agencies and companies that contract with state agencies to screen employees using the E-Verify system.
State Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, who at one point called E-Verify a “bogus deal,” filed Senate Bill 518 to require every employer to use the “Employment Authorization Program,” prohibit an employer from hiring an unauthorized alien and require every public employer to register with and participate in the E-Verify system.
According to Floridians for Immigration Enforcement:
The SB518 Verification of Employment Eligibility Act is an effective, moderate and common sense solution to address the root cause of illegal immigration – THE JOB MAGNET. The bill mandates that all employers in Florida use E-Verify to verify the legal status of new hires. While Governor Scott’s Executive Order to mandate that all new state employees as well as new hires for state contractors be verified, SB518 expands the scope to include all businesses operating within the state.
The Migration Policy report indicates that “E-Verify strengthens immigration enforcement because it detects the most common types of fake IDs that cannot be matched to valid records in Social Security or Department of Homeland Security, DHS databases.”
But the report adds that it “remains vulnerable to identity fraud because the system cannot confirm whether a name and the identifying number actually belong to the worker being hired.” The system cannot detect employers who, despite being enrolled, do not screen everybody they hire.
Another problem is the non-use of the system by employers. A 2008 Department of Homeland Security evaluation cited by the Migration Policy report shows that in Arizona, where E-Verify is mandatory, two-thirds of new hires likely were not submitted to E-Verify. There is also a problem of erroneous confirmations, in which unauthorized workers are cleared by E-Verify.
In addition to this, and despite improvements, there is still a high number of erroneous non-confirmations that impose additional costs on workers and U.S. businesses. And these errors produce discriminatory outcomes that affect people with foreign names, naturalized citizens, and legal residents.
The Migration Policy report highlights that the growth of E-Verify would expose Americans to greater risk of identity theft, employers may intentionally misuse the program, and employers “who move their operations off the books” may be more likely to violate worker protection laws.
The report credits Citizenship and Immigration Services with several efforts to resolve problems of identity fraud and employer misuse.
There are proposals to increase the use of E-Verify at the national level. According to the report, this would increase the direct economic cost of the program. It would also “reduce state and federal payroll taxes because many employers would move existing unauthorized workers off the books to avoid detection.”
It would also increase erroneous non-confirmations — negatively impacting authorized workers and business owners.
Finally, new E-Verify mandates may lead employers to hire legal workers, “but poorly crafted mandates could lead instead to more identity fraud, and off-the-books employment.”
The Migration Policy Institute report: