Should E-Verify, the Federal Government's Electronic Employment Verification System, Be Mandatory for All Employers?


General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), on the page titled "What Is E-Verify?" on the USCIS website, updated July 20, 2017, stated:

"E-Verify is an Internet-based system that compares information from an employee's Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, to data from U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration records to confirm employment eligibility...

E-Verify's most impressive features are its speed and accuracy. E-Verify is the only free, fast, online service of its kind that verifies employees' data against millions of government records and provides results within as little as three to five seconds.

Today, E-Verify is:

  • Used nationwide by more than 500,000 employers of all sizes

  • Used at more than 1.4 million hiring sites

  • Joined by about 1,400 new participating companies every week

  • One of the federal government’s highest-rated services for customer satisfaction."

    [Editor's Note: On Aug. 15, 2011, in order to better understand the E-Verify program while developing this pro-con question, ProCon.org enrolled in the E-Verify program at the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) E-Verify homepage: uscis.gov/E-Verify. The process took approximately 50 minutes from start to finish and required us to input data about the company and its proposed use of E-Verify (10 minutes); electronically sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) and wait for an approval confirmation email and temporary password (five minutes); log in with the temporary password, change the password, and complete an E-Verify tutorial (30 minutes); and pass a multiple-choice knowledge test with a score of 70% or higher (five minutes).]

  • July 20, 2017 - US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) 



    PRO (yes)

    Chuck Grassley, MA, US Senator (R-IA), in a Jan. 24, 2017 press release, "Grassley E-Verify Bill Promotes Accountability for Employers," available at Grassley's Senate website, stated:

    "Businesses across the country have opted to use the E-Verify system to help comply with our immigration laws. E-Verify is a proven tool for employers, including myself, that helps reduce incentives for illegal immigration and safeguards job opportunities for Americans and other legal workers. Expanding the system to every workplace [with a mandate] will improve accountability for all businesses and take an important step toward putting American workers first."

    Jan. 24, 2017 - Chuck Grassley, MA 



    David Fowler, President for E2A2 (E-Verify Employer Agent Alliance), in an Oct. 13, 2016 The Hill article, "8 Key Requirements; E-Verify Congressional Mandate," available at thehill.com, stated:

    "As it stands, state E-Verify statutes are different; and they keep changing.

    Federal employees, employees of certain state governments, employees hired in certain states, and employers found to be non-compliant in the past, are all required to use E-Verify.

    To reduce burdens and penalties, employers need a federal E-Verify mandate so they only have to comply with one set of rules and employees in every state are treated the same.

    Congress should waste no time in passing a federal E-Verify mandate to unburden employers, help ensure a safe work environment, protect jobs for authorized workers, and defend E-Verify from cyber-attack."

    Oct. 13, 2016 - David C. Fowler 



    Leonard Lance, US Representative (R-NJ), in a July 31, 2017, as quoted in a July 31, 2017 press release, "Lance Bill Would Mandate E-Verify," available at insidernj.com, stated:

    "E-Verify is a proven system for making sure job opportunities are for American workers. E-Verify is a deterrent against illegal immigration and expanding it to new workplaces will make sure legal, American workers are not shut out of employment. We need E-Verify up and running and we need all employers to participate to make it effective."

    July 31, 2017 - Leonard Lance, JD, MPA 



    Mark Krikorian, Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies, in a Nov. 4, 2016 article, "Opinion: How Employers Could Stop Illegal Immigration in Seconds," available at marketwatch.com, stated:

    "Whatever you think of Donald Trump's proposal to build a wall on the Mexican border, there's another wall we can complete right now: E-Verify…

    In a sense, universal use of E-Verify would be a major step toward making legal status a labor standard. Few employers are tempted to hire children, after all, and that’s only partly out of fear of punishment; it has become a social norm, a habit, not to hire kids. But while it's easy to tell if a job applicant is an 11-year-old, employers need E-Verify to tell if he's a legal worker.

    Mandating E-Verify would not only be an important enforcement tool, it would also be an important political step toward resolving our current immigration mess."

    Nov. 4, 2016 - Mark Krikorian, MA 



    Jeff Sessions, US Senator (R-AL), in remarks made on the Senate floor on Apr. 1, 2014, available at sessions.senate.gov, stated:

    "E-Verify works by checking data against records maintained by the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration. It is quick and easy...

    According to a January 2013 USCIS Customer Satisfaction Survey, E-Verify received an 86 out of 100 in the American Customer Satisfaction Index Scale. That is 19 points higher than the customer satisfaction rating for the overall federal government...

    E-Verify has been proven to deter employers from hiring illegal workers and will help to put Americans back on the payrolls. A number of states have already enacted E-Verify laws with great results...

    Our goal must be to help struggling Americans move from dependency to independence, to help them find good and steady jobs with rising pay. Making E-Verify permanent and requiring all employers to use it is one simple thing that we can do to work towards that goal."

    Apr. 1, 2014 - Jeff Sessions, JD 



    The US Chamber of Commerce, in a statement given by Randel K. Johnson, the Chamber's Senior Vice President of Labor, Immigration, and Employee Benefits, to the US House Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security on Feb. 27, 2013, available at judiciary.house.gov, stated:

    "[T]he U.S. Chamber supports E-Verify...

    The U.S. Chamber recognizes that an enhanced employment verification system with obligations by employers must be part of any immigration reform package. We accept that there must be adequate penalties for an employer’s failure to complete the employment verification process, but we insist that there be one, single national policy and uniform enforcement with safe harbors for good faith employers and an integrated, single employment verification system."

    Feb. 27, 2013 - US Chamber of Commerce 



    The National Restaurant Association stated in an Aug. 28, 2013 post on restaurant.org titled "E-Verify: A Key Element of Immigration Reform:

    "The National Restaurant Association has supported federal measures that would make use of the [E-Verify] system mandatory for all employers. This would give restaurant operators a way to show that they have made a good-faith effort to verify the work eligibility of new hires and reduce the chances of having to later dismiss employees or pay fines for hiring ineligible workers... While any employer can use E-Verify, most are not required to do so. At least 20 states require some private employers to use the system, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. A federal law would override a patchwork of differing state E-Verify mandates."

    Aug. 28, 2013 - National Restaurant Association (NRA) 



    Lamar Smith, JD, US House Representative (R-TX), stated while introducing a mandatory E-Verify bill Apr. 26, 2013, in comments available at lamarsmith.house.gov:

    "Twenty-two million Americans are still struggling to find full-time employment. Meanwhile, seven million people work in the U.S. illegally. These jobs should go to legal workers.

    Illegal workers compete with American workers for jobs and drive down their wages. The nationwide use of E-Verify could increase wages and open up millions of jobs for unemployed and underemployed Americans. E-Verify will help ensure that jobs are reserved for citizens and legal workers.

    E-Verify is easy to use and has proved effective at helping employers avoid illegal workers. It takes just a few minutes and immediately confirms 99.7% percent of work-eligible employees."

    Apr. 26, 2013 - Lamar Smith, JD 



    Barack Obama, JD, 44th US President, stated in a May 2011 White House report titled "Building a 21st Century Immigration System," available at whitehouse.gov:

    "In order to hold businesses accountable that break the law by undermining American workers and exploiting undocumented workers, the President supports: Phasing in mandatory use of the E-Verify system over a multi-year period in conjunction with a program that requires the undocumented population to get right with the law. Employers with more than 1000 employees would be required to join the system first, with additional phases that add more employers in succeeding years. Some small businesses could be exempt from using E-Verify system..."

    May 2011 - Barack Obama, JD 



    The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) stated during testimony on NAHB's behalf by First Vice Chairman Barry Rutenberg before the US House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement on June 15, 2011, available on the Numbers USA website:

    "Over the years, as more and more states have taken it upon themselves to pass their own versions of mandatory E-verify laws, it has become increasingly obvious to our members that a single, federal requirement is the best way to address the issue to avoid confusion, and resultant compliance failures. Using E-Verify, provided it is fair, efficient, and workable, would greatly enhance employers' ability to determine who is work-authorized in the United States, thus making federal immigration law much more viable and effective..."

    June 15, 2011 - National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) 



    CON (no)

    Alex Nowrasteh, MSc, Immigration Policy Analyst at the Cato Institute's Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity, in a Feb. 14, 2017 article, "Sen. Grassley's Proposed E-Verify Mandate Is an Expensive Dud," available at cato.org, stated:

    "Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) recently introduced S. 179, known as the Accountability Through Electronic Verification Act (ATEVA), to mandate E-Verify in the United States…

    ATEVA is another in a long line of bills introduced to mandate E-Verify in an attempt to force employers to help enforce federal immigration law. The government should enforce its own laws rather than conscripting employers. If the government cannot enforce its own laws then that is a signal that its laws should change. Americans should not have to ask government permission to work from a federal government database. If ATEVA were to ever become law, it would be an expensive new scheme that would fail to help enforce our immigration laws and likely lead to more invasive forms of national identification."

    Feb. 14, 2017 - Alex Nowrasteh, MSc 



    Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., in an undated article accessed on Aug. 17, 2017, "Five Facts about State Mandatory E-Verify Laws," available at cliniclegal.org, stated:

    "Mandating employer use of E-Verify would push more workers into the underground, off-the-books, cash-based economy. This would give the state far less tax revenue and would give unscrupulous employers more tools to coerce workers. The unauthorized workers targeted by these measures are taxpayers, consumers, and job-creators. Decreasing their economic well-being will have depressive effects that ripple through the state's entire economy...

    Mandating E- Verify for all employers will cause the error rate to expand and will be difficult to implement in an inexpensive and timely manner. Currently, E-Verify is used by only 7 percent of employers. Mandating that the remaining 93 percent of employers join the program would likely cause the error rate for all workers to increase, given the enormous expansion of E-Verify that such a mandate would require."

    Aug. 17, 2017 - Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC) 



    Nicholas Woodfield, JD, Principal and General Counsel at The Employment Law Group (Washington, DC), stated in his Dec. 1, 2014 article for the Orlando Sentinel titled "Flawed Validation Tool and Database Causes Workplace Havoc":

    "E-Verify causes havoc in the workplace... In one year, before any national requirement, E-Verify unfairly gave employers a reason to fire almost 12,000 perfectly legitimate new hires.

    And that's just the collateral damage. E-Verify is much worse at its core task of flagging applicants who truly aren't eligible to work. The last authoritative study showed that E-Verify flubbed this mission at least half the time, failing to identify anywhere from 37 percent to 64 percent of unauthorized workers.

    If E-Verify were a commercial product, in short, no rational employer would pay to use it. It fails to identify illegal workers, and it turns away thousands of legal workers each year."

    Dec. 1, 2014 - Nicholas Woodfield, JD 



    The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) stated in an Oct. 2014 policy document titled "Agricultural Labor – E-Verify," posted on the AFBF website:

    "Requiring agricultural employers to use E-Verify without assuring that a workable guest worker program is in place could have a significant, negative impact on U.S. farm production, threatening the livelihoods of many farmers and ranchers in labor-intensive agriculture...

    If the mandatory E-Verify program goes forward by itself, without providing producers a source of legal workers, it would present a potentially insurmountable challenge for many agricultural employers. Farm Bureau economists estimate that as much as $5 billion to $9 billion in annual agricultural production is at risk if the industry’s labor needs cannot be addressed."

    Oct. 2014 - American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) 



    John H. Cochrane, PhD, Professor of Finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, wrote in his Aug. 1, 2013 op-ed for the Wall Street Journal titled "Think Government Is Intrusive Now? Wait Until E-Verify Kicks In":

    "E-Verify is the real monster. If this part of the bill passes, all employers will be forced to use the government-run, Web-based system that checks potential employees' immigration status. That means, every American will have to obtain the federal government's prior approval in order to earn a living...

    Every tyranny silences opponents by controlling their ability to earn a living... Why are we so afraid of immigrants that we would jeopardize this most basic guarantee of our political liberties?

    Aug. 1, 2013 - John H. Cochrane, PhD 



    The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) stated in a May 2013 white paper titled "Prove Yourself to Work: The 10 Big Problems with E-Verify," available at aclu.org:

    "In order to detect the small percentage of job seekers who are unauthorized workers, a mandatory E-Verify system creates a whole new level of intrusive government oversight of daily life—a bureaucratic 'prove yourself to work' system that hurts ordinary people...

    Perhaps the most significant problem with requiring the entire nation to obtain permission from the government when starting a job is that the government is going to make a lot of mistakes that affect innocent people. And when a bureaucratic error can prevent a person from making a living, that is an enormous problem and should not be treated lightly."

    May 2013 - American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) 



    The National Immigration Law Center (NILC) stated in testimony on E-Verify before the US House Judiciary Subcommittee on Feb. 27, 2013, delivered by Emily Tulli, JD, Policy Attorney with the NILC:

    "E-Verify encourages employers to misclassify workers as independent contractors and move them off the books. It also gives employers one more tool to retaliate against workers, so if a worker complains about mistreatment, the employer can decide to use E-Verify against the worker. When employers can easily abuse some workers, all American workplaces suffer.

    E-Verify employers routinely violate the program rules, and that hurts workers... 42% of workers say that they aren't notified by their employer of an E-Verify error. And if a worker doesn't know that an error exists they have no way to correct it... Because the livelihood of US citizens is at risk, even seemingly small error rates really matter. Using USCIS' own statistics, at least 50,000 US workers experienced an E-Verify error last year. And that's with 93% of employers not using the program."

    Feb. 27, 2013 - National Immigration Law Center (NILC) 



    Cathy Reisenwitz, writer and political commentator, stated in her Nov. 17, 2013 article for Reason.com titled "E-Verify Turns Work into a Privilege, and Empowers the Surveillance State":

    "The first problem with mandating E-Verify use is how much work it’s going to create for employers...

    The E-Verify system requires all employers to go through the entire interview, offer, negotiation and acceptance process before they are allowed to check whether any applicant is eligible to work. Of course E-Verify’s propensity to put the kibosh on the hire at the end of the process will lead employers to discriminate against non-native born workers to save themselves the expense. Any expectation otherwise stretches credulity."

    Nov. 17, 2013 - Cathy Reisenwitz 



    David Borris, owner and co-founder of Hel's Kitchen Catering in Northbrook, IL; Cristina McNeil, MBA, former owner of Office Web International in Boise, ID; and ReShonda Young, Operations Manager and Corporate Vice President of Alpha Express, Inc. in Waterloo, IA, stated in their May 17, 2013 Washington Post op-ed titled "On Its Own, E-Verify Places Too Heavy a Burden on Small Businesses":

    "A targeted legislative proposal to require all employers to use [E-Verify]... would come at a serious cost to small business owners, particularly if not packaged with broader immigration reform...

    [E]ven if the program's error rates are held at current levels, an estimated 156,000 authorized workers would be threatened with job loss by system errors. If error rates rise with the expansion of the program, this problem will be magnified, costing time and money for workers and business owners to fix mistakes, and taking their focus away from building businesses, serving customers, and creating jobs."

    May 17, 2013 - David Borris 
    Cristina McNeil, MBA 
    ReShonda Young 



    David Bier, Immigration Policy Analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute at the time of the quote, stated in his Jan. 10, 2013 op-ed titled "E-Verify: Immigration Reform's Threat to Legal Workers," published on Forbes.com:

    "E-Verify is not reliable and shifts enforcement costs onto citizens... According to E-Verify’s government audit, a national mandate would deem 1.2 million to 3.5 million legal employees... initially ineligible to work. In 2008, Intel, the computer chip maker, put its new employees through E-Verify and 12 percent were declared ineligible...

    E-Verify’s most serious threat is to privacy. The system’s guilty-until-proven-innocent approach could be applied to any activity, not just employment, and to any area of law, not just immigration law. It would be Americans’ cyber-passport that, like a regular passport, is used to prove identity and restrict access."

    Jan. 10, 2014 - David Bier