Congress Loves E-Verify: Grants $111 Million Funding, Conducts Research Study

The love affair with E-Verify is still going strong, even whilst Congress is in recess. Last month, both houses of Congress agreed to grant USCIS an additional $111 million dollars to fund the E-Verify Program.  H.R. 933 is currently enrolled in the House of Representatives and has yet to be signed off by the President. [Did somebody mention sequestration?]

To be fair, the E-Verify Program isn’t the only program receiving funding.  H.R. 933 would grant Customs and Border Protection an additional $324 million to fund border security fencing, border security infrastructure, and technology.  With the influx in funding for the E-Verify Program and “border” security of our nation (both the interior and borders), Congress is getting serious about immigration reform.  It’s also making good on its promise to “get tough” on immigration violators. A Congressional report issued last month detailed the historical development of E-Verify and its impact on businesses if the program were to be nationally mandated.  The report was well-written but unremarkable in its objections to the E-Verify Program, paving the way for Congress to adopt the program on a nationwide scale.

What We Already Know The highlights of the report confirmed what we already know:

  • The E-Verify Program cannot detect various forms of document fraud (when legitimate documents are used as a result of identity theft);
  • Year 2008 data reveals that 54% of unauthorized workers are incorrectly found to be work authorized;
  • Since 2007, USCIS has worked hard to incorporate multiple accuracy mechanisms into the system;
  • Approximately 15% of all E-Verify cases in fiscal year 2012 used the photo-matching tool; and,
  • Overall accuracy rate for E-Verify has improved dramatically from 4% to .01% error rate as of 2009.  [It would be nice of USCIS would release more current data.]

Determinations on E-Verify As for the determinations on the mandatory use of E-Verify, Congress has yet to make any comments on the seriousness (or lack of seriousness) of these obstacles.

  • Mandatory E-Verify may make it too difficult for unauthorized workers to work.  They may then choose to work “under the table,” increasing worker exploitation. [Congress may revamp some labor labors to address this issue.]
  • Mandatory E-Verify could increase fraudulent use of documents even more.  [Meanwhile, USCIS is working behind-the-scenes to expand the photo-matching tool and implement a social security number “lock” into the program.]
  • Mandatory E-Verify could increase bureaucracy and hiring delays. [Bureaucracy at its best (or worst).  Employers will be impacted indeed but the question is how long will these delays be?]
  • The E-Verify Program has the capacity to run more than 60 million cases, according to a 2010 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.
  • Net effect on E-Verify use will help to increase the hiring of foreign-born workers but also increase the negative impact of erroneous tentative non-confirmations (TNCs) on those workers (even though, the overall erroneous TNC trend is downward).
  • Employers forced to use E-Verify may use it incorrectly or in ways that violate the law more often than employers who have voluntarily enrolled.  [Surely the Office of Special Counsel will likely play an active role.]
  • There is no mechanism to encourage employers who need to notify employees of a TNC to notify employees in a private setting.

On balance, the report leads to one conclusion: the implementation of E-Verify nationwide. We’ll report back once Congress resumes its sessions and decides further on E-Verify.

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