E-verify is an internet-based employment eligibility verification system used by some businesses to check the work eligibility of employees. The database is administered by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Many individual businesses have chosen to enroll in the system while other localities and states have either proposed or implemented mandated use of e-verify for public contactors. E-verify has numerous flaws that have led a broad group of stakeholders to oppose mandated use of the system, from labor unions and community groups to businesses and business associations.

E-Verify Toolkit

The major problems with the system include:

  • The databases used in administering e-verify are riddled with errors that often lead to U.S. Citizens and lawful immigrant workers facing delays in or denial of employment. While DHS claims a 94% success rate of e-verify (meaning that 6% of workers  verified receive temporary non-confirmation notices (TNCs) for having discrepancies between the employment information they provide and that housed in the databases), independent studies on large multinational companies have show rates as high as 15%. Even more troubling, a study of MCL Enterprises, which operates 24 Burger King restaurants in Arizona where e-verify is mandatory, found that 75% of legal immigrant workers received TNCs. A January 2010 audit by SSA found that 19% of e-verify requests were not even processed through the database and 49% of queries were not returned within the required 7 days.
  • Many small businesses and business associations oppose mandatory e-verify because of the added layer of beaurocracy and additional resources it requires. Despite representing 73% of all businesses in the U.S., only 12% of businesses enrolled in e-verify are small businesses. Most small businesses employers cite the program lack of “[ease] and efficiency” for not enrolling in the program. One small business even estimated it would cost an additional $27,000 each year to operate the program.
  • Imposing e-verify on businesses will not lead to a reduction in unemployment, but instead lead to higher unemployment rates. Utilizing the error rates discussed above and because simple spelling errors or one wrong number can lead to a TNC, if all businesses in the U.S. were mandated to use e-verify the SSA estimates that 3.6 million U.S. Citizens and legal immigrants would either lose their jobs or need to respond to TNCs within the required 8 days of receipt.
  • Implementation of mandatory e-verify will result in discrimination and undermine workers rights. A 2009 DHS-commissioned study found that 42% of workers reported not being told by their employer of a TNC, resulting in the denial of their right to contest the finding. Moreover, one study found that 57% of employers used e-verify to pre-screen candidates, something that is forbidden under the program.

Pushback from Community

For more information on e-verify, please see OneAmerica's E-verify Talking Points or the National Immigration Law Center's helpful fact sheet on e-verify and overview of the negative impact of e-verify on economic recovery.

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