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The Biggest Critics of E-Verify Have Yet to Comment

With congressional focus on the E-Verify System becoming mandatory in the future, both critics and proponents are out in full force spreading their messages. The Washington Post featured an article on Monday, June 3rd, about E-Verify, citing many criticisms of the system.

While the critics have been vocal about the challenges the E-Verify System currently faces, (to which USCIS has admitted is a work in progress), news outlets are eager to publish articles capitalizing on these criticisms.

In light of the current immigration bill proposed by the Senate “Gang of Eight,” it is curious that the critics have not commented on the proposed legislation’s attempts to alleviate some of these criticisms.

Do the Senators get any credit for trying to address some of the criticisms in the proposed bill?  Join us for our Wednesday June 5th Webinar where we discuss E-Verify.  Register here.


The Accuracy Rate

The biggest criticism E-Verify receives is the accuracy rate of its databases.  In a country with millions of workers, even a small percentage of legally authorized workers being incorrectly rejected by the system could be disruptive to the workforce.

Of the more than 20 million cases processed as of fiscal year 2012, 1.35% of cases resulted in mismatched cases.  Of that small percentage, .26% of cases were found to be work-authorized but incorrectly rejected in E-Verify.  (Read the stats here.)

The last official independent audit was conducted by Westat on the E-Verify system, which resulted in a report released in December 2009.  This is where the accuracy rates, which were much higher back in 2009 than in 2012, are often cited by critics.  To be fair, it’s the last official audit of USCIS E-Verify statistics by an independent auditor.  The Senate’s proposed immigration bill would require an independent report by the General Accounting Office on E-Verify data accuracy every year.

While there are more than 315 million people in the U.S. according to the Census Bureau, critics who factor in the entire U.S. population fail to consider that a percentage of individuals are not in the workforce (i.e.: children, retirees, etc.)  The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports there are only approximately 155 million workers in the U.S. (including the unemployed).  This is the more appropriate number from which to draw a calculation of workers who could be negatively impacted by incorrectly being rejected in E-Verify for work authorization.

Nevertheless, the Senate’s immigration bill provides resources for work-authorized individuals who have been incorrectly rejected by E-Verify. Furthermore, USCIS launched the Self-Check module in 2012 nationwide.  I have processed my own work authorization through this module and it’s easy to do.  Workers who have the resources and are able to be proactive can complete this online system, before they begin their job search.

The Appeals Process

The current E-Verify system lacks a formal method for aggrieved work-authorized workers to contest their E-Verify results after a final result has been issued, even if they have cleared up the error. The proposed Senate immigration bill provides a mechanism for these workers to appeal this result in E-Verify.

Identity Theft and Fraud

Critics raise concerns that identity theft of valid identity and work-authorization documents may increase if E-Verify is mandated nationwide.  Unauthorized workers using valid documents can thereby skirt the E-Verify system.  This is all true.

The Senate’s immigration bill attempts to address some of these concerns by enabling the Social Security Administration to step up its efforts to produce tamper-resistant cards, as well as other remedies. The legalization of a significant portion of unauthorized workers in this country would probably have the biggest impact in curbing identity fraud for work-authorization purposes. Yet, no news articles seem to discuss this aspect of the immigration bill.


E-Verify alone cannot resolve the immigration challenge our country currently faces.  If the system were to be mandated nationwide, the system may encounter even bigger challenges when faced with processing thousands of cases on a daily basis.  The data accuracy rate may well fluctuate and cause significant challenges for employers, as our past guest attorney indicated here.

What do you think?  Do you agree with the critics?  Should the critics take a closer look at the Senate’s immigration bill?  Want to know what else the immigration bill has to say about E-Verify?  Join us for a webinar on Wednesday, June 5th, 2013 at 12:30pm (EST) discussing these aspects of E-Verify and more.  Register here and get more details.

Human Resources Today