Making E-Verify Mandatory Could Hurt Small Businesses, Workers

NationalImmigrationLawCenterpolicy attorney Emily Tulli testified this week before the House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security about E-Verify, an online electronic employment verification program. The committee, which has had several hearings about E-verify in previous legislatures, discussed the benefits and drawbacks to this program.

“No matter where you fall on the E-Verify debate, the truth is that implementing the program without providing unauthorized workers with a road to citizenship will spell economic disaster for many of our most important industries,” said Don Lyster, DC director.

Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) noted that small businesses may not have easy web access to implement E-Verify, adding to the administrative costs of the system.

Added Tulli, “Too often, the discussion about implementing E-Verify focuses simply on the cost to employers. E-Verify is costly for all American workers as well. Each U.S. worker who is falsely flagged as unauthorized to work will have to wade through miles of red tape to correct his records, a process that could drag on for months and put him at risk for termination.”

Tulli outlined theNationalImmigrationLawCenter’s policy recommendations for implementing E-Verify, which, if mandated, should only be put in place after a broad immigration reform bill that includes a road to citizenship for all unauthorized workers becomes law. Some of these recommendations include: strong labor and due process protections for workers, especially if they are falsely flagged as unauthorized to work; penalties for employers who abuse the program; privacy protections for those using E-Verify; and a phased-in implementation of E-Verify. For more information about the National Immigration Law Center’s E-Verify policy recommendations, click here.

The following is a statement by Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL):

“Today’s hearing is remarkable because we are talking about employment verification systems in their proper context.  We are discussing how to actually make them work and work for American workers with the right sorts of protections and appeals processes that make sure any errors are corrected in a timely manner.  And we are talking about electronic verification systems as part of a broader reform that legalizes the current workforce and allows for legal immigration in the future.

“For the last decade, the bills I have written and co-sponsored with Senators McCain and Kennedy and Flake and others have had mandatory electronic verification systems as part of the broader reforms because whatever system we devise must have integrity and enforcement.  But for the last decade or more, Republicans have only been willing to discuss E-Verify as a stand-alone issue, isolated from other reforms of our immigration system like legal immigration and legalization.  Those times are changing and we are having a much more realistic and fruitful conversation about employment verification because Republicans are back at the table willing to talk sensibly about how to move forward.”


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