Since 2007, the E-Verify program has been gaining popularity with American companies. But also since its early days (it was first introduced as part of a pilot program in 1997), its use has been widely debated.
Run jointly by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration, E-Verify is supposed to assist employers by using information reported on their new employees’ form I-9 to determine whether they are eligible to work in this country. So what is the issue?
Proponents of E-Verify say it’s a valuable tool. It’s free, easy to use and readily available to anyone with an internet connection. They say it protects American employers and employees. Politicians like to point out that it controls illegal immigration by preventing companies from hiring illegal workers.
But its detractors question whether E-Verify unfairly target certain people and industries, such as agriculture, that rely on migrant workers. And they say it provides little protection for employers who struggle to weed out illegal workers, then can’t find replacements. There is also the fear that the government is creating a database or invading workers’ privacy, although both claims have been denied.
Nineteen states require E-Verify checks in some form, and in any state companies may be required to use E-Verify if you have federal contracts or subcontracts. But others are signing on voluntarily at a rate of about 1,200 businesses per week. Have you considered the pros and cons?
• The program quickly verifies employment eligibility and almost eliminates Social Security mismatch letters.
• Employers utilizing E-Verify can assume that they did not knowingly hire an unauthorized worker, providing added insulation from liability.
• Employers in some states may be able to pursue certain types of business via state or local government contracts that they would not otherwise be eligible to obtain.
• Proper use of the program protects jobs for authorized workers.
• Opponents say that E-Verify is not perfectly accurate and there is a risk of false non-confirmations that expose an employer to legal action.
• Employers must handle administrative burdens such as training and timely management of the verifications and subsequent actions.
• Improper use of the E-Verify program for pre-employment screening or to re-verify current employees exposes employers to liability.
• The capacity of E-Verify to handle a heavy load of submissions and the ability of the Social Security Administration to quickly resolve confirmation issues is uncertain.
• Participating employers expressly allow the Social Security and Homeland Security agencies to perform periodic audits.
Are you ready to take on these issues? If you have questions about this issue or other types of employee screening, contact the experts at Springborn Staffing.