More than any other issue, immigration causes amnesia to mainstream media journalists. For years, we have known three facts about E-Verify: (1) it's accurate; (2) it's effective; and (3) it's free. As these basic truths have become widely known, E-Verify has grown in popularity with the public and the employers that use the system. Yet recent reporting shows a disconnect from E-Verify's most important features.
A "controversy" that doesn't exist
The San Antonio Express-News never questioned Ali Noorani's (of the anti-enforcement National Immigration Forum) claim that E-Verify without amnesty would only drive illegal workers into the underground economy. Noorani's prediction has been shown to be false at the state level. Arizona's illegal workforce dropped by 17 percent in the first couple of years following it's 2007 E-Verify law - and that with little enforcement while the law was unsuccessfully challenged in court.
The Express-News also incorrectly reported a "per inquiry cost" to E-Verify, which has always been free to its users. While some opponents have claimed that small business owners would have to buy a computer in order to participate, the Legal Workforce Act would establish a phone system for businesses without Internet access. The Express-News missed that important fact.
The general balance of reporting might lead uninformed readers to believe that Americans are deeply divided over E-Verify; the Express-News and ComputerWorld both describe E-Verify as "controversial." But 82 percent of likely U.S. voters agree that E-Verify should be required for every business in the country. Employers themselves scored E-Verify an 82 out of 100 on the Customer Satisfaction Index, with the overwhelming majority of E-Verify users confident of its accuracy and likely to recommend E-Verify to other employers.
Businesses continue to use E-Verify even when they are no longer required to do so. In Rhode Island, where Gov. Chaffee rescinded the executive order to require E-Verify, its use has (as reported by Jessica Vaughn of the Center for Immigration Studies) increased despite the governor's action.
Even amnesty supporters say they support E-Verify as part of their comprehensive proposals. The press is reporting on a controversy that doesn't exist.
Millions of forgotten Americans
Meanwhile, 24 million Americans who want a full-time job but can't find one---a more compelling controversy given the 8 million jobs tied up with illegal workers--- are left out of the media's immigration coverage.
The Miami Herald ran a 400-word article about Florida business interest groups opposing the Legal Workforce Act, but not a word about the unemployed Americans E-Verify was created to protect. Instead, the Herald repeated the baseless claim that E-Verify "would make it difficult to find workers since few U.S. citizens want those jobs." The Florida press repeated that erroneous claim this spring, and a statewide E-Verify law was defeated despite record unemployment.
As the prospects for a national E-Verify law grow stronger, so does the misinformation campaign from supporters of loose and illegal labor markets. Yet, the case for mandatory E-Verify has never been stronger. With persistently-high levels of unemployment, there is no justification for allowing employers to displace 8 million Americans with workers. After three years of recession and jobless recovery, the only controversy surrounding E-Verify is that it has taken Washington this long to move legislation mandating its use.
JEREMY BECK is the Director of the Media Standards Project for NumbersUSA
Updated: Mon, Oct 2nd 2017 @ 4:05pm EDT