Talking Points: E-Verify

Mar 21, 2011


What is it? E-Verify is an internet-based employer verification program designed for employers to use to determine the work eligibility status of new employees or people applying for a job. It checks the immigration status of employees in the social security database.

What's the deal? Some members of congress would like to make E-Verify a mandatory program. It would increase employer accountability, giving them greater incentive to hire employees who can legally work in this country. Those who oppose making E-Verify mandatory for all employers cite the following reasons:

It will decimate the agricultural industry.
- Approximately 50% of agricultural jobs are held by undocumented immigrants. If they were no longer able to work, the other half of complementary jobs held by U.S. workers would be eliminated or moved out of the country.

Small businesses would suffer.
- Proponents of making E-Verify mandatory say it's free, but in reality, it costs businesses time and resources to train employees to use the system.
- It also costs when a company receives a "tentative non-confirmation" (an employee is tentatively ineligible to work), because of the amount of time it takes to verify.
- It effects productivity.
- One small business in Maryland said that it would cost them $27,000 for the company to use E-Verify for one year, making it more challenging to hire new employees.

We can't make E-Verify mandatory without greater and simultaneous immigration reform.
- It would be ignoring the important role that undocumented workers play in the U.S. economy.
- Without a pathway to legalization, immigrants will be driven to the underground economy, outside the tax system, resulting in lost revenue.
- Employers who choose to illegally employ ineligible workers will continue to find ways around the laws.
- It won't encourage immigrants to leave the country
- they would find another way to earn a living.

The database has many errors.
- It has resulted in false negatives for U.S. citizens, and false positives for undocumented workers.
- The error rate is much higher for people with foreign last names, due to frequent misspellings or reversal of first names and surnames.

For more information:
The National Immigration Law Center released (1/11) really helpful and well-documented talking points on E-Verify.
The Immigration Policy Center published a blog post with more good information following a Subcommittee on Immigration hearing on the subject in February.

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