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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily

How Expanding E-Verify Would Hurt American Workers And Business

by Mary Giovagnoli et. al of the Immigration Policy Center

Expanding mandatory E-Verify would threaten the jobs of thousands of U.S. citizens and saddle U.S. businesses with additional costs—all at a time when we need to stimulate our economy.  Expanding E-Verify now would be in direct contradiction to the goal of creating jobs and would slow America’s economic recovery.

E-Verify is bad for the economy and tax revenues:

  • The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that a mandatory E-Verify program would decrease federal revenues by $17.3 billion over 10 years due to the number of workers leaving the formal economy and working in the unregulated, untaxed underground economy.
  • The CBO’s predictions have come true in Arizona, where E-Verify is mandatory. Businesses are hiring workers off the books, which means they are not paying income or payroll taxes.
  • CBO also estimated that implementing mandatory E-Verify would cost $3 billion over 5 years and $6.1 billion over 10 years.

E-Verify will cost U.S. citizens and legal workers their jobs—the OPPOSITE of what is needed:

  • If E-Verify were to become mandatory, SSA estimates 3.6 million Americans would have to visit an SSA field office each year in order to keep their jobs.
  • When an employer receives a tentative nonconfirmation (TNC) from E-Verify, it means that DHS cannot immediately confirm the work authorization of the worker and the worker must work out the error with SSA or DHS.
  • Employers in Arizona have complained about the number of TNCs received for work-authorized immigrants or U.S. citizens
  • MCL Enterprises, a company that owns 24 Burger King restaurants in Arizona, reported that over 14% of queries to E-Verify resulted in a TNC, and the rate for foreign-born workers was 75%.
  • Sometimes employers do not notify workers that they received a TNC, which means the workers don’t have a chance to correct their records and may lose their jobs.
  • Sometimes employers fire workers when they receive a TNC without giving the worker a chance to correct the error.  Other employers restrict work assignments or delay training.

E-Verify is costly for employers:

  • The real costs of enrolling and participating in E-Verify can run several thousand dollars per employer.
  • We don’t know how E-Verify will impact small employers who may lack the resources and technology to implement it.  While 73% of businesses in the U.S. have less than 10 employees, only 12% of E-Verify users are small businesses.
  • MCL Enterprises testified before Congress that implementing E-Verify was “extremely costly and disruptive” to their operations resulting in lost productivity.

E-Verify does not detect unauthorized workers:

  • A new evaluation of the federal employment authorization program by Westat found that 4.1% of initial responses were wrong—0.7% of the time legally authorized workers were flagged as not work authorized, and 3.3% of all E-Verify cases involved unauthorized workers who got through the system.  According to Westat, "many unauthorized workers obtain employment by committing identity fraud that cannot be detected by E-Verify."  The "inaccuracy rate for unauthorized workers" is about 54%.
  • E-Verify will not stop employers from hiring workers off the books, and may encourage them to do so. 

E-Verify debate is symbolic, not substantive:

  • Anti-immigrant groups which have crowned themselves the self-appointed champions of the American worker are willing to throw American workers under the bus in order to pass a harsh immigration provision that is ineffective.  The American people want real solutions, not bitter, symbolic battles over immigration on every piece of legislation.  Let’s work to improve E-Verify as part of comprehensive immigration reform.


About The Author

Mary Giovagnoli is the Director of the Immigration Policy Center. Prior to IPC, Mary served as Senior Director of Policy for the National Immigration Forum and practiced law as an attorney with the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security—serving first as a trial attorney and associate general counsel with the INS, and, following the creation of DHS, as an associate chief counsel for United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Mary specialized in asylum and refugee law, focusing on the impact of general immigration laws on asylees. In 2005, Mary became the senior advisor to the Director of Congressional Relations at USCIS. She was also awarded a Congressional Fellowship from USCIS to serve for a year in Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s office where she worked on comprehensive immigration reform and refugee issues. Mary attended Drake University, graduating summa cum laude with a major in speech communication. She received a master’s degree in rhetoric and completed additional graduate coursework in rhetoric at the University of Wisconsin, before receiving a J.D. from the University of Wisconsin Law School. She spent more than ten years teaching public speaking, argumentation and debate, and parliamentary procedure while pursuing her education.


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.


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