When news first broke of the arrest of illegal alien Cristhian Rivera, it was reported that his employer, Yarrabee Farms in Brooklyn, Iowa, had used E-Verify to check if he was eligible to work in the United States. The farm's owner has since backtracked and that the company did not run Rivera through E-Verify. But that initial claim called into question the effectiveness of E-Verify and its ability to deter illegal immigration.
There are still dozens of unanswered questions after Rivera was charged with the murder of 20 year-old Mollie Tibbetts who disappeared just over a month ago while out for a run. However, one thing remains clear -- E-Verify is effective and remains the best way to eliminate the jobs magnet and deter illegal immigration.
The Department of Homeland Security says that it has no record of Cristhian Rivera, including confirming that he never applied for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) amnesty. The DHS confirmation means that Rivera, in all likelihood, crossed the border illegally to obtain work in the United States.
We now know that Rivera was not run through E-Verify, but if he had, it's possible that he could have been confirmed as a legal worker if he had used stolen documents during the hiring process. This is a known issue with E-Verify, but legislation that would require all employers to use E-Verify introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) in the House and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) in the Senate would close the loophole.
Back in 2009, a study by Westat found that 54% of illegal aliens who used stolen documents were confirmed eligible to work in the United States by E-Verify. Since then, the Department of Homeland Security has taken steps to prevent the use of stolen documents.
In 2010, DHS began implementing a photo matching tool. Photos from passport books, passport cards, employment authorization documents, or green cards are now part of the E-Verify system. If a new hire presents one of those four documents as a form of identification during the verification process, E-Verify will display the photo associated with that document on the employer's computer. The employer must then inform the system if the photo on their computer screen matches the photo on the document presented. E-Verify will then use that information in its determination of the worker's eligibility.
But the photo matching tool only works if the new hire presents one of those four documents. That's why it's imperative that Congress pass either Rep. Smith's Legal Workforce Act, H.R. 3711, or Sen. Grassley's Accountability Through Electronic Verification Act, S.179.
Rep. Smith's bill, as introduced, would require the Social Security Administration to notify the owner of a Social Security number when the number has been used with multiple employers. It would also require the SSA to lock the number if the number's owner indicates that it was fraudulently used.
Sen. Grassley's bill, as introduced, would require the sharing of information between the Commissioner of Social Security, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and the Secretary of the Treasury that could lead to the identification of illegal aliens.
Had either of these bills been passed and implemented when Rivera applied for work with Yarrabee Farms, he would have been denied work, which could have led to him leaving the country ... or not illegally entering in the first place
As more details of Cristhian Rivera's ability to illegally enter, live, and work in the United States become available, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle will offer solutions to deter future illegal immigration. But unless those solutions include mandatory E-Verify for all employers, illegal workers will continue to sneak into the country or overstay a visa to obtain work.
CHRIS CHMIELENSKI is the Deputy Director of NumbersUSA
Updated: Wed, Sep 5th 2018 @ 7:45pm EDT