by Dr. Rey Guerra
This is Part II in a several part series discussing the United States Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) bill (Officially: S.744 Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act). Part I, introducing the series and discussing the Border Trigger, can be found here.
Part I highlighted the onerous Border Security and Border Fencing triggers. The triggers, and the bill, are structured such that it is possible that they may never be met and “the entire legalization program may be rendered moot.” Here in Part II, another onerous trigger is discussed.
THE E-VERIFY TRIGGER
The bill states that the DHS Secretary may not adjust the status of aliens until “the Secretary has implemented the mandatory employment verification system…for use by all employers to prevent unauthorized workers from obtaining employment in the United States.”
The point of E-Verify is to prevent unauthorized workers from gaining employment by requiring that permission be sought from the federal government when starting a job. It is currently being used in 16 states across the country. S.744 basically turbocharges e-verify, making it federal law, requiring every state and every business, anybody hiring anybody anywhere, to implement it.
The negatives of E-Verify have been outlined and discussed for a while now. One of the major issues that I see is that the government is woefully not ready for the program.
When government program errors prevent anybody from making a living, that’s kind of a big deal. When government program errors prevent hundreds of thousands of people from making a living, well, that program needs to be done away with. Rampant false positives already exist. Here are some stats:
- The US Government Accountability Office estimates that if E-Verify is made mandatory nationwide, 164,000 people would be held up from being hired just because of issues with name changes .
- Citizenship and Immigration Services reports that in 2012, ~1 out of every 400 cases submitted to E-Verify resulted in false positives . In a nation where there are 154 million workers, that would be 400,000 deprived of the right to work.
Oh, and resolving errors isn’t easy. A report by the National Immigration Law Center highlights examples that are typical of people experiencing false positives. Here’s a good one :
- A US citizen and former captain in the US Navy with 34 years of service and a history of having maintained high security clearance was flagged by E-Verify as not eligible for employment. It took him and his wife, an attorney, two months to resolve the discrepancy.
In addition to the false positives, the AARP is extremely concerned about the strain a nationwide E-Verify would put on the Social Security Administration’s ability to delivery services to its beneficiaries.
There’s more. History and recent data suggest that E-Verify will lead to widespread discrimination and racial profiling. A 1990 study by the GAO found that when the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 required employers to verify identities, 20% of employers engaged in widespread discrimination against foreign-looking AMERICAN workers . You almost can’t blame them. Businesses may avoid interviewing workers just to avoid dealing with the potential hassle (this is racial profiling).
The Huffington Post has a nice short article highlighting the discriminatory issues with E-Verify. For a more in depth study on the negatives with E-Verify, check out the ACLU’s 10 Big Problems with E-Verify. www.gao.gov/new.items/d11146.pdf  USCIS  www.nilc.org/document.html?id=337  archive.gao.gov/d24t8/140974.pdf
Dr. Rey Guerra is an engineer in the renewable energy field and is the Chair of the Greater Houston Civic Coalition, a group dedicated to resolving social, economic, and civic issues through education, training, and advocacy.
3rd Centavo is an opportunity for guest bloggers to sound-off (with a progressive bent) on various issues.