Report: E-Verify Misses 50% of Illegal Workers

Nick Fishman

It’s been fairly smooth sailing for the E-Verify, the government program that allows employers to check the legal right to work status of an employee in the United states, since it was made mandatory for federal contractors last year.  That is until now, where it is being reported that this system is failing to catch more than half of all illegal workers.  The technology is not the problem, nor are Social Security Administration’s or Department of Homeland Security’s databases.  The issue lies in its inability to detect identity fraud.  In other words, if the employee fills out their I-9 Form and presents documents that contain valid information (such as a social security, passport or drivers license number), the system simply can’t tell that they belong to someone else.

I suppose this is a better problem to have then the system regularly spitting our tentative non-confirmations for legal workers, but still something that will have to be addressed in some fashion.

Report: E-Verify Misses Half of Illegal Workers

By SUZANNE GAMBOA, Associated Press Writer – Thu Feb 25, 3:09 am ET

WASHINGTON – The system Congress and the Obama administration want employers to use to help curb illegal immigration is failing to catch more than half the number of unauthorized workers it checks, a research company has found.

The online tool E-Verify, now used voluntarily by employers, wrongly clears illegal workers about 54 percent of the time, according to Westat, a research company that evaluated the system for theHomeland Security Department. E-Verify missed so many illegal workers mainly because it can’t detect identity fraud, Westat said.

“Clearly it means it’s not doing its No. 1 job well enough,” said Mark Rosenblum, a researcher at the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan Washington think tank.

E-Verify allows employers to run a worker’s information againstHomeland Security and Social Security databases to check whether the person is permitted to work in the U.S. The Obama administration has made cracking down on employers who hire people here illegally a central part of its immigration enforcement policy, and there are expectations that some Republicans in Congress will try in coming weeks to make E-Verify mandatory.

E-Verify correctly identified legal workers 93 percent of the time, Westat said. However, previous studies have not quantified how many immigrants were fooling the E-Verify system. Much of the criticism of E-Verify has focused on whether U.S. citizens and legal immigrants with permission to work were falsely flagged as illegal workers.

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Nick Fishman
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Nick Fishman

Nick Fishman is the co-founder of EmployeeScreenIQ, a leading, global employment background screening provider, and serves as the company’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer. He pioneered the creation of EmployeeScreen University, the #1 educational resource on employment background checks for human resources, security and risk management professionals. A recognized industry expert, Nick is a frequent author, presenter and contributor to the news media. Nick is also a licensed private investigator in the states of Ohio and Texas.
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