E-Verify Has Problems, And the Government Agrees With Us

Over the weekend, there was a USA Today article giving prime coverage to those who advocated for an E-Verify requirement as part of the economic stimulus package signed into law a couple weeks ago. E-Verify, the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) employment verification program, would require all employers to verify the work eligibility of new hires through error-ridden government databases. The article was particularly troubling because it incorrectly cited the systemic problems associated with using the E-Verify. Very late in the article, it says:

The business groups and immigrant advocacy groups argue that the E-Verify database is riddled with errors that could result in millions of workers being wrongly identified as not authorized for work. They say requiring its use before hiring would impose a cost burden on employers and open them to lawsuits.

We found this really misleading, because the business and immigrant advocacy groups like the ACLU are not alone in arguing E-Verify will result in delays due to the errors in Americans' files. You know who else agrees with us? The federal government.

As Media Matters reported Monday, numerous federal reports have been published to this point. A 2008 Government Accountability Office report on E-Verify found:

About 7 percent of the queries cannot be immediately confirmed as work authorized by SSA, and about 1 percent cannot be immediately confirmed as work authorized by [U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services] because employees' information queried through the system does not match information in SSA or DHS databases… because employees' citizenship status or other information, such as name changes, is not up to date in the [Social Security Administration] database, generally because individuals have not notified SSA of information changes that occurred.

Even the Social Security Administration (SSA), one of the governmental agencies potential employees’ records are verified through, admits to errors in its system. An internal assessment in 2006 found that approximately 4.1 percent of records need to be updated and could result in incorrect feedback for employment verification purposes. In fact, the SSA self-reported (PDF) that around 17.8 million of its files contain incorrect data. Of that 17.8 million, 12.7 of those files concern U.S. citizens.

So we're not the only ones who question the reliability of government databases. It's crucial to note that federally commissioned assessments and reports find employment verification systems like E-Verify have significant hurdles to universal implementation — hurdles that, unless fixed, will injure innocent Americans and lawfully present immigrants, as well as our economy as a whole.

Add a comment (5)
Read the Terms of Use

lassie

E-verify works 99.5 % o, thats why you and the open border people dont want this. aclu needs to move to Mexico . United States has allowed many immigrants into this country, we want them checked out coming in the front door. More Americans are waking up, and they see what the ACLU is doing to destroy this country. I share with everyone i come in contact with on a daily basis what your motives are.TREASONOUS.

Sadie

Come off it, Lassie. EVerify is not 99.5% accurate (you got that figure from a right wing, anti-immigration source or you've been watching too much Lou Dobbs or FoxNoise). I was denied employment consideration when the damn thing flagged me. It also happened to my brother, and some other people I know. When I called the company to challenge it, even they admitted that they'd had lots of complaints about false flags. All of us who were flagged (and ultimately lost employment opportunities) are US citizens who have worked (and voted) in this country for decades, and in my case I'd actually worked for a different division of the company (which had authenticated my IDs in the past)that was now denying me employment. Oh and get this, I have a US passport issued and renewed twice by the same DHS that was now doubting my citizenship. I have gone through US customs many times without a hitch. And all this time, DHS didn't suspect that I wasn't a citizen? Very troubling. BTW, the job I was applying for did not require citizenship; only the legal right to work in the US. Before you doubt my authenticity, I'm a degreed, professional human resources manager, trained in checking applicants' legal work status and documents, so I know a thing or two about this subject. How ironic that I became a victim of this outlandish program.

magyart

Sadie, I simply don't believ you. If your story was true, you would have sued and published an account of it in the newspapers.

The E-verify system is highly accurate and easily to use for any employer. It's even free !

All employers must be FORCED to use it. It's working in AZ and eleven other states. Not a single report of any American being fired, due to E-verify.

NEWS ALERT... B...

I WONDER WHAT THEIR EXCUSE WILL BE NOW?

THE BUG IS FIXED AND NOW THE ONLY CIVIL RIGHTS THAT SHOULD BE A CONCERN IN REGARDS TO E-VERIFY ARE THE AMERICANS WHO ARE OUT OF WORK AND CAN'T COMPETE WITH ILLEGAL ALIEN WAGES.

HAVE THEY EVER THOUGHT ABOUT THAT? I THINK IF THEY VIEW ILLEGAL ALIENS AS MORE IMPORTANT THAN AMERICANS THAT ARE OUT OF WORK AND ARE ENTITLED TO JOBS FROM STIMILUS FUNDS THEN THEY SHOULD STRIPPED OF THEIR NAME AND RESPECT.

HOW BOUT... ICLU

IMMIGRANT CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION.

I THINK THAT'S MORE APPROPRIATE.

beholder

I couldn't agree more. E-verify is yet another erosion of civil liberties in America.

Sign Up for Breaking News