March 9, 2009
By Jena Baker McNeill
On March 11, E-Verify will expire. This program gave employers a
method by which to confirm the eligibility of employees to work in
the U.S. Letting E-Verify expire was a mistake and a step backward
in efforts to enforce America's immigration laws. Later today,
Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) will introduce an amendment to the
Senate's version of the omnibus spending bill. This amendment would
reauthorize the program for another five years, giving Congress the
opportunity to avoid the mistake of letting this program expire.
Congress should reauthorize E-Verify and support reforms that
strengthen it and similar workplace enforcement programs.
Helping Employers Enforce the Law
E-Verify allows employers to confirm an employee's ability to
legally work in the United States. An employer enters information
provided by a prospective employee (from the I-9 form) into an
online portal. The system then compares that data to information in
Social Security Administration (SSA) and Department of Homeland
Security (DHS) databases. It then issues either a confirmation or a
non-confirmation. Non-confirmations can be resolved if an employee
can later prove that there was a discrepancy in the system. If it
is not resolved, a final non-confirmation is issued and the
employer is not allowed to hire the worker.
E-Verify has been a success. More than 80,000 employers
participate in E-Verify, and the system has confirmed the identity
of over 5.3 million workers. The program has been a success because
it helps employers enforce immigration laws in a cheap and
user-friendly fashion. For example, the software is free and
requires very basic information-information already found on the
I-9. Knowing beforehand that an employee can legally work also
minimizes the cost of having to hire new employees later. And with
an error rate of fewer than 4 percent, employers can comfortably
rely on the program.
More Time for E-Verify
Given the benefits of E-Verify, it is vital that the program
continues. Although the program will expire this week, Congress can
still reauthorize E-Verify. Furthermore, Congress should strengthen
E-Verify and similar workplace enforcement programs by doing the
E-Verify helps responsible employers hire legal workers in an
economically viable manner. It and other similar programs are the
type of business-friendly and cost-effective programs that Congress
should be supporting. Consequently, Congress should reauthorize and
fully fund E-Verify.
Jena Baker McNeill is a
homeland security policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation.
Congress should reauthorize and fully fund E-Verify.
Jena Baker McNeill
Senior Policy Analyst, Homeland Security
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