E-Verify system: “E” is for error

by | Small Business Consulting

Last month, I blogged about the E-Verify system, which is a mostly voluntary program offered by the feds free of charge. It is designed to help employers to verify whether or not an applicant or employee is legally allowed to work in the US.

In my first post on the subject, I shared what the E-Verify system means to you, as employer; in a follow-up post, I shared what some people are saying about the effectiveness of the E-Verify system. Here’s more.

This system has been hailed by members of Congress as an easy way for employers to comply with Form I-9 requirements. What about critics?

Critics have attacked the system as red-tape run amuck, leading to lawsuits for the dismissal of properly documented workers and unwarranted Form I-9 audits by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor.

A recent excerpt from the Los Angeles Times article“E-Verify: E is for error” on March 9th points out that the system has some real problems.

These problems are ones that supporters and critics alike may not have considered. Apparently E-Verify “failed to flag illegal workers 54 percent of the time” due to identity theft. It appears that employers can properly fill out the Form I-9, check the worker’s documents and submit it – and still get a false result due to stolen or counterfeit documents.

It is unclear from the article whether or not an employer who follows the rules and hires an illegal alien or undocumented worker who has stolen someone’s identity is liable for hiring that person. However, it does point out the system needs to be perfected before the program is expanded or made mandatory as one of the major components of enforcement in an immigration reform package.

The Los Angeles Times is right: “Although the program used to regularly mistake legal workers for illegal ones, it now correctly evaluates documented workers 99% of the time. Still, expansion is premature. Before employers can be held accountable, they need a tool that works.

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