1. Do you support the implementation of enhancements such as photo matching and access to additional government databases to improve...
1. Do you support the implementation of enhancements such as photo matching and access to additional government databases to improve the accuracy of the E-Verify system? Why or why not?
2. If you were the owner of a small business, would you use the E-Verify system to screen prospective workers? Why or why not?
3. Would you favor mandatory use of the E-Verify system at large corporations and government agencies? Why or why not?
U.S. law requires that companies operating in the United States only employ individuals who are legally permitted to work in the United States. To this end, all U.S. employers must complete and retain a Form I-9: Employment Eligibility Verification for each individual (both citizens and noncitizens) they hire in the United States. An employer must examine the employment eligibility and identity documents presented by a new employee to determine whether the documents reasonably appear to be genuine and relate to the individual; the employer must then record the document information on the Form I-9 for that employee. The list of acceptable documents includes documents that (1) establish both identity and employment authorization (U.S. pass-port, permanent resident card, etc.), (2) establish identity only (driver’s license or photo ID card issued by a local, state, or federal government), or (3) establish authorization to work only (Social Security card, certificate of birth, etc.). E-Verify is an Internet-based system run by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that allows employers to electronically verify the employment authorization of their newly hired employees. The program compares information from an employee’s Form I-9 to data in U.S. government records. If the data matches, the employee is eligible to work in the United States. If there is a mismatch, E-Verify alerts the employer, and the employee has eight work days to contact either the Social Security Administration or the Department of Homeland Security (depending on the source of the data mismatch) to start resolving the problem. During this eight-day period, and during the time it takes for the data mismatch to be further researched by the government agencies, the employee cannot be terminated. In a 2011 ruling involving Arizona state law, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that states may constitutionally mandate the use of E-Verify for all employers within a given state. The states are greatly divided on this issue—some states have passed laws requiring all employers to use E-Verify to determine the eligibility of new hires; some just require public employers and government contractors to use E-Verify; and some require just private employers with more than a specified number of workers to use E-Verify. In some states, the decision to use E-Verify is being made at the county and city level. The number of employers who use E-Verify is increasing rapidly, almost doubling between 2010 (when 226,538 employers used the system) and 2012 (at which time 404,295 used it). An immigration bill proposed by the U.S. Senate in 2013 would require all companies with 500 or more employees to adopt E-Verify within three years. According to a 2010 analysis of E-Verify conducted by an outside consulting firm on behalf of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 4.1 percent of initial responses from the E-Verify system were inconsistent with the worker’s actual employment eligibility status. Of those erroneous responses, 0.75 percent related to workers who were initially determined to be not authorized to work but who were in fact authorized, and 3.35 percent related to workers who were determined to be employment authorized but who were not actually eligible to do so. By 2012, however, the percent of mismatches was down to 1.35 percent. Only 0.09 percent of employees were confirmed as eligible for employment after an initial mismatch, while 1.26 per-cent were found to be in fact ineligible. One limit of E-Verify is that the system cannot detect all cases of identity fraud. In fact, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has conducted some of its largest raids of unauthorized workers at companies that use the E-Verify program. In 2011, for example, ICE raided Howard Industries’ electrical transformer plant in Mississippi and found about 600 unauthorized workers, many of who had used identification data of someone other than themselves. The system’s less than 100 percent accuracy rate and failure to identify unauthorized workers, including some workers committing identity fraud, has raised many political concerns and emotional responses. In order to reduce errors due to identity theft, the ICE recently implemented a photo tool that matches the photo submitted with the I-9 documents with photos in government records and with the actual employee. However, employers can choose to opt out of submitting a photograph of their employees. Additional government databases may be integrated into the E-Verify matching process to improve accuracy. In addition to accuracy issues, there is concern that mandatory use of E-Verify will harm authorized workers and lead to discrimination. Opponents also fear it will create additional work for human resource departments in terms of updating personnel records, and initiating and following up on requests to various government agencies. Meanwhile, proponents argue that the accuracy of the E-Verify system will improve over time and as further enhancements are made. They believe that it is fair to ask employers to do a quick check of each employee to ensure that they are hiring authorized workers. With the high level of unemployment, supporters of E-Verify believe that steps should be taken to ensure that jobs go to authorized workers.
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