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Immigration Matters

New America Media, News ReportEditors Note: A recent study pushing for reauthorizing the federal E-Verify program that checks whether employees are legally allowed to work in the U.S. does not resolve the problems inherent in the program. Michele Waslin is Senior Policy An, Michele Waslin Posted: Oct 06, 2008

Editors Note: A recent study pushing for reauthorizing the federal E-Verify program that checks whether employees are legally allowed to work in the U.S. does not resolve the problems inherent in the program. Michele Waslin is Senior Policy Analyst with the Immigration Policy Center of the American Immigration Law Foundation. Immigration Matters regularly features the views of the nation's leading immigrant rights advocates.

The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) is up to it again, releasing a new and highly misleading report claiming that the E-Verify employment verification program is 99.5% accurate. This is yet another in CISs long series of dubious studies issued to stall meaningful immigration reform and push its deportation-only agenda.

By claiming that E-Verify is highly accurate, CIS believes it can convince the public and Congress that the program must be reauthorized and expanded so that it would be mandatory for every single employer. This would mean that every single U.S. worker would have to get permission from the government to work and the impact of a single error could be devastating. CIS can continue to use statistics that make E-Verify attractive. However, nothing will change the fact that E-Verify is not a solution to our nations serious immigration problems, and that attempts to expand the program will harm lawful U.S. workers.

The CIS report is based on misleading data coming from a small sample of 1,000 queries to the system coming from voluntary E-Verify users in 2007. Since many types of errors are possible, and some are never detected, CISs accuracy rate is meaningless. More importantly, since only about 1% of employers are currently using E-Verify, the results are not useful for predicting what would happen if all 7 million U.S. employers were forced to use the system.

Even the government has disputed CISs 99.5% conclusion. In fact, Richard Stana of the Government Accountability Office testified at a May 2008 Congressional hearing that it was misleading to claim that the E-Verify error rate is less than 1%. In fact, many of the tens of thousands of workers who receive final non-confirmations are actually work-authorized.

CIS also claims that businesses that participate in E-Verify are "likely to be spared the intensity of stepped-up worksite enforcement investigations." Tell that to Swift & Co. and Howard Industries, who were raided and nearly 1,000 workers arrested, even though both companies had been using E-Verify. Clearly using E-Verify doesnt guarantee that all workers will be authorized and provides no immunity from enforcement actions.

The bottom line is that the accuracy rate of E-Verify is unacceptable each error means that a U.S. citizen or legal U.S. worker could be denied employment and a paycheck because the government database contains an error. Furthermore, no matter what the accuracy rate, E-Verify is a problematic program that has harmful consequences for U.S. workers and employers. Stronger worksite enforcement does not solve the problem of undocumented immigration. In fact, it will cause more workers to go to the underground economy, costing the U.S. tax dollars and leaving workers more vulnerable. Fixing the U.S.s broken immigration system is a necessity, but simply expanding the problematic E-Verify would cause more problems than it would solve.

Related Articles:

The Politics Driving Mississippis ICE Raid

A Conservative Argues for Immigration Reform

Work is Criminal for Mississippi Undocumented

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