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  by  Roy Beck

I hope very critical news reports about E-Verify this week did not shake your confidence in mandatory workplace verification. I will tell you there is more to the story, but also that the weaknesses in E-Verify are why we call for the passage of the SAVE Act which has extra provisions to combat identity fraud. . . .

Mark Krikorian over at the Center for Immigration Studies summarizes the general tone of news stories this week:

An evaluation of the E-Verify program conducted about two years ago has just been released. (The 338-page pdf is here.) It estimates, among other things, that about half of illegal aliens who were screened between April and June 2008 managed to foil the system and get approved for employment, and opponents of immigration enforcement are tickled pink. Chuck Schumer, who is taking the lead on amnesty, said "This is a wake-up call to anyone who thinks E-Verify is an effective remedy to stop the hiring of illegal immigrants." Likewise, former Kennedy staffer Marc Rosenblum said, "Clearly it means it's not doing its No. 1 job well enough."

My NumbersUSA staff immediately provided these key points to me to put these news stories and the "new" study into perspective:

  • This report uses old data (April-June, 2008); newer data gives E-Verify a lower error rate (though it hasn't been used to measure the success rate of catching unauthorized workers);
  • Since June 2008, USCIS has been expanding their Photo Security Tool, which should greatly enhance E-Verify's ability to catch identity thieves;
  • The SSA could close the ID Theft loophole almost entirely if it would simply notify workers with more than one employer making contributions to their social security account numbers and ask them to report if they were not actually working for each of those employers. SSA, however, has a policy of not informing the victims of identity theft.

It is this last point that may be the most important.

While NumbersUSA talks about the need for a universal mandate for using E-Verify, what we specifically urge is the passage of the SAVE Act (H.R. 3308 by Democrat Rep. Heath Shuler of North Carolina and S. 1505 by Democrat Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas).

The SAVE Act does require all employers to use E-Verify for all new hires and for all pre-existing employees. But it does much more, including requiring notification of every person whose social security number is being used at multiple workplaces. This, alongside improvements being made regularly in E-Verify, can largely deal with the identity theft issue that the old study in the news this week refers to.

The politicians and newspapers that have opposed passage of the SAVE Act are now out in full force this week suggesting that E-Verify should be scrapped because it doesn't do the things that we know the SAVE Act would handle.

These critics have the gall to say we should have zero verification because the present system doesn't screen out 100% of the illegal aliens.

Krikorian has a couple of other comments that pointed to items in the report that the news stories missed:

This new report finds that only 9 percent of SSNs used nine times or more between 2004 and 2008 were kicked out by the system as illegal aliens; obviously, almost all of them were being misused by illegal aliens. As the authors noted, "it does not seem plausible to the evaluation team that only 9 percent of the cases in which workers used SSNs or A-numbers on the Transaction Database nine or more times were for unauthorized workers." This is why photos from green cards and Employment Authorization Documents now pop up when someone presents one of those (passport pics are coming online soon), and also why states need to provide driver's license photos when those documents are used (some states are resisting, even though they share with each other).

In other words, E-Verify needs a robust ID system underlying it, which is why Congress passed the REAL ID Act, which some states and open-borders interests are still resisting.

Finally, the report notes that "Mandating the use of E-Verify is expected to make the Program more effective in preventing unauthorized employment." Yes, it is. And the best example of such a mandate is Arizona, but its experience with the program was not assessed in this report; "the evaluation team did not have adequate data for estimating the impact of E-Verify on unauthorized employment in Arizona, the only state that has implemented E-Verify for all employers."

More than 110 Members of Congress have co-sponsored the SAVE Act. Check here to see if your three Members are on the list.

ROY BECK is Founder & CEO of NumbersUSA

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Interior Enforcement
e-verify
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