Flawed E-Verify Law Would Derail Immigration Reform Efforts, Say Experts

Flawed E-Verify Law Would Derail Immigration Reform Efforts, Say Experts

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Last month, Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX) introduced the Legal Workforce Act, which would require employers to verify their employees’ legal immigration status using the online program E-Verify. While proponents of the program believe the resulting loss of jobs will compel undocumented workers to return to their home countries, not all policy experts agree.

“The law would just drive eight million unauthorized workers even deeper into the shadows,” said Angela Kelly, an analyst at the Center for American Progress (CAP).

Back in 2006 and 2007, proposed immigration reform packages included E-Verify mandates, but were counterbalanced by legalization programs for the 11 million or so undocumented people currently living in the United States. Today, only 4 percent of U.S. employers use E-Verify. If participation in the program becomes mandatory through the Legal Workforce Act, however, it would likely take the wind out of comprehensive immigration reform bills such as the one introduced by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) last month, according to Kelly and her colleagues at CAP.

During a teleconference hosted by New America Media on Wednesday, Kelly and Philip Wogin, both immigration policy analysts at CAP, told ethnic media reporters that the E-Verify legislation would also have other unintended consequences.

“This bill would break the backs of small businesses,” said Kelly, who shared CAP estimates showing that the mandate would cost small businesses a total of $2.6 billion a year.

In theory, E-Verify allows employers to ensure that all of their employees are legally authorized to work in the U.S. To do so, the employer enters personal information, including the birth date and social security number or alien identification number of the employee, into the E-Verify system. Then, the Social Security Administration and U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) cross check that data against existing records. If the information matches up, E-Verify issues proof of work authorization.

If there is a mismatch of information, E-Verify issues a tentative non-confirmation to the employer. When this occurs, the employee must contact the government in order to sort out the issue. If the employee fails to resolve the data discrepancies, E-Verify then issues a final non-confirmation notice. Under Smith’s proposed bill, the employer would be legally obliged to fire the worker after receiving the second notice.

Part of the problem, said Kelly and Wolgin, is that the current E-Verify technology is not accurate. CAP estimates that the system will accurately identify only about half of all employees who are not legally authorized to work in the country. Conversely, many employees who are legally authorized to work could be erroneously flagged by E-Verify as unauthorized. CAP estimates those employees would then have to spend an average of $450 in lost wages and transportation costs just to straighten out the misunderstanding with the government. Although legally, employers have to wait for the final non-confirmation notice before firing their employees, CAP has found that employers who already use E-Verify often fire their workers after receiving the first, tentative non-confirmation. CAP estimates that 770,000 people who are legally authorized to work in the United States could lose their job if E-Verify becomes law.

Kelly noted that the federal government would also stand to lose revenue, if unauthorized workers choose to move from the formal to an informal economy as a result of the E-Verify mandate. In addition to the lost income and tax revenue that will cause, said Kelly, there is also the startup cost to the federal government.

“This is a program that would result in a massive expansion of government,” said Kelly. CAP estimates that the Department of Homeland Security would spend about $800 million just to establish the program. It would cost the Social Security administration $281 million.

The bill is likely to be debated in the Judiciary Committee, of which Smith is the chair, later this month. If it passes the Republican-controlled committee as expected, it could be introduced on the House floor as early as September.

Although Congressional Republicans appear to support the bill, it is not without some controversy within the party. Pennsylvania Representative Lou Barletta, the former mayor of Hazleton, who famously cracked down on the employers of undocumented immigrants in his town, objected to the federal government taking on what he sees at a state issue. To date, Arizona, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and Indiana have all passed immigration laws that include E-Verify mandates.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said that he will not support a federal E-Verify mandate separately from comprehensive immigration reform.

 

Comments

 
Anonymous

Posted Jul 14 2011

PASS HR704 ...I WANT E-VERIFY, AND ALL ILLEGALS NEED TO SELF DEPORT OR YOU WILL BE DEPORTED ONE WAY OR ANOTHER...GOODBYE...AMERICANS COME FIRST NOT YOU!

Anonymous

Posted Jul 14 2011

PASS HR704 ...I WANT E-VERIFY, AND ALL ILLEGALS NEED TO SELF DEPORT OR YOU WILL BE DEPORTED ONE WAY OR ANOTHER...GOODBYE...AMERICANS COME FIRST NOT YOU!

Anonymous

Posted Jul 14 2011

Visit NumbersUSA and ALIPAC websites and fighht illegal immiugration.

Anonymous

Posted Jul 14 2011

E-verify doesn't work accurately. I tell from experience because I use e-verify and sometimes we mismatches for employees who are authorized to work in the US. If this passes without being tied to a comprehensive immigration reform it will cause serious problems in the agricultural, restaurant and construction business. If an immigration reform would pass and they would make those applying for residence pay back any taxes owed, penalties and processing the government would make millions of dollars.

Anonymous

Posted Jul 15 2011

Would like to see some sources cited, with links, stating that DHS would be out $800 million (which is really a drop in the bucket) just to establish the program. I thought it was already established, for voluntary use. About the federal government losing revenue if illegal workers moved to the "informal economy".....That's doubtful, as it would open up the jobs formerly held by those illegals to AUTHORIZED workers, at a more decent wage, which would get the government more revenue. And if I, as a legitimate worker, were flagged, I'd sure as hell want to know why, and stop that glitch in its tracks - something I would have been unaware of without E-verify.

Anonymous

Posted Jul 15 2011

this article is full of misinformation, only about 3% of people run thru e-verify come back as mis-match. Ask these people where they are coming up with their numbers and make them prove it

Anonymous

Posted Jul 15 2011

This is headed toward something extremely nasty. I hope to hide from it, and avoid it as much as possible until death. I really never wanted to live in Mexico.

Ironweed

Posted Jul 15 2011

A system that makes mistakes cannot be used? Then we need to scrap the IRS, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, all state and federal services... In short, we would have to cease operating as a country if we scrapped everything that had the potential to make a mistake.

Anonymous

Posted Jul 15 2011

@ Ironwood - Thank you!

Anonymous

Posted Jul 15 2011

The Only Reason To Not Use E-Verify is for? Maybe your a illegal immigrate or a illegal employer? Or your family member or friend is a illegal immigrate? But If you or your family is out of work, a citizen of America looking for work you are for E-VERIFY! So supply and demand works for them! 9.2% unemployment and that after years of high unemployment so it really much higher than that! Morally you can not give my rights of being an America to someone who should not be here! Just to make you rich or because you like or love an illegal immigrate!!

Anonymous

Posted Jul 15 2011

The last sentence of the article says it all. Reid and the dems just want the illegals to stay so they can stay in power. This has nothing to do with the accuracy of E-verify. Reid and his like can spread all the lies and propaganda they want. It's obvious from the other comments here that US citizens won't fall for it.

Anonymous

Posted Jul 15 2011

My small, non-profit uses E-Verify. It's not problem. It's not some financial hardship that these liars at the Center for American "Progress" would have us believe. Does THAT organization use E-Verify? Do they have any actual experience with the program? I'm guessing NO.

Anonymous

Posted Jul 15 2011

E-Verify is a wast of time and money. When hotel gets workers from a contracting cleaning company they do not use e-Verify. The same in construction, agriculture. E-Verify will only push undocumented workers deeper underground. They do not take jobs from Americans. Georgia has shortage in agriculture workers, but unemployment is still the same.

Anonymous

Posted Jul 15 2011

Illegals/Migrant workers thrown out, wages go up. We all live happily thereafter. That equation is incomplete. The complete equation is: Illegals/Migrant workers thrown out, wages go up and some our corporations go out of business and some go out of USA starting productions in countries, like Canada, Brazil, India, China, Malaysia and Indonesia. Because, these countries have quality labor which is cheaper and the economy of today is a "Global Economy".

COMPLETE THE EQUATION.. It does not lead anywhere to happy, golden days!

Anonymous

Posted Jul 15 2011

E-Verify is ultimately 100% accurate. The downside of E-Verify is that illegal-aliens who steal identities of legal workers can and do slip past it, which I can live with because that too can become fixed in time.

Anonymous

Posted Jul 17 2011

THATS TRUE AMERICANS CAME FIRST ,EUROPEANS,AFRICANS,ASIANS,ETC, GO HOME, FIRST PEOPLE THROUGH AMERICA IT MEANS FROM CANADA,USA,MEXICO,CENTRAL AMERICA AND SOUTH AMERICA

God blessed and bless america

if you doubt about america check the map

Anonymous

Posted Jul 22 2011

This program is flawed. A friend of mine is a naturalized citizen. He got his citizenship as a youth. But when he did , the SSA database was never updated. The employer only gave him 8 days to track down his father in order to get the documentation which proves he is a citizen. He was unable to do it in that short time. Now he is out of work and he has a 10 month old daughter and a stay at home wife to support. How can anyone support a system that hurts good hard working American families like his?

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