E-Verify Backgrounder

Document Date: June 20, 2008

Employee Verification


Proposals are making their way through Congress, including the SAVE Act (H.R. 4088), that would dramatically expand the government’s flawed “E-Verify” program – ensuring that millions of Americans will be barred from working. If passed, every employer in the United States will be required to verify the eligibility to work of every current and prospective employee, including U.S. citizens.

About a month ago, President Bush issued a National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive that requires all governmental contractors and subcontractors to go through an electronic employment verification process, checking potential employees against their Social Security file.

Right now E-Verify is used by only a fraction of our nation’s employers, but its ongoing technological snafus, database errors and bureaucratic bungling have caused enormous financial losses for both businesses and employees. The program also places an incredible strain on an already overburdened Social Security Administration.

Expanding E-Verify nationwide will only exacerbate these problems, setting up a monstrous system guaranteeing that millions of Americans will be barred from working. Invariably, DHS will confuse the files of people with similar names or use erroneous information, creating a “No Work List” similar to the “No Fly List.” It will be difficult, if not impossible; to remove yourself from the list or recoup lost wages from your job.

Because, as the government admits, the E-Verify databases are riddled with errors, they must be cleaned up before Congress makes any attempt to implement a mandatory worker verification program. At a time of growing economic uncertainty, the last thing we need is for lawmakers to pass legislation making it even more difficult for Americans to work.

In addition, mandatory employment eligibility verification would put undue costs on businesses of all sizes. Business owners would have to spend a considerable amount of time verifying the status of their current and potential employees, taking resources away from vital issues like productivity and revenue.

Members of Congress should be encouraged to reject any attempts to impose E-Verify or a similar mandatory employee eligibility verification program. They should also be encouraged to support legislation mandating the government clean up its error-ridden databases before any verification programs become law.

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