Migration Policy Institute Examines E-Verify and Recommends Changes

The E-Verify system, a free program run by the United States government, allows employers to check a new hire’s eligibility to work in the U.S.

While the program was established to prevent illegal aliens from working in the U.S., and, according to the Department of Homeland Security has bee effective, one independent think tank says that the program needs changes.

The Migration Policy Institute, a non-partisan Washington-based think tank, recently completed a review of the program and used its findings to point out faults and recommend changes.

MPI found that one of the program’s biggest faults is that it is susceptible to identity fraud. E-Verify can determine if a name and social security number match a database, but cannot confirm that they actually belong to employee presenting the information. A person using a stolen card and assuming another’s identity can easily bypass E-Verify security measures.

While the government has measures in place to mitigate this problem, including photo matching and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services monitoring and compliance branches, the MPI found that these do not always work. It found that between October 2009 and August 2010, only 2.6 percent of E-Verify cases were subject to photo matching, due to staffing and other issues, USCIS are somewhat ineffective against fraud.

The organization also found that employer noncompliance and misuse is a common problem. Some employers fail to use the program when hiring, while others abuse the program for various reasons. The erroneous nonconfirmations that have made the program controversial in the past also continue to be a problem with E-Verify, as some U.S. citizens and lawful immigrants have been labeled as non-eligible to work. It did note that the number of erroneous nonconfirmations dropped from 8 percent between 2004 and 2007 to 2.6 percent in 2009.

MPI recommends an expansion of the photo matching program and the use of some type of biometric technology to deter fraud. The government already plans to expand the photo matching program by including driver’s license data and a system that allows workers to preverify their data, the latter of which is to be introduced shortly. MPI also recommends linking E-Verify mandates to legalization and visa reform, so that illegal immigrants can be absorbed into the system and earn legal status.

The organization argues that all of these changes should be phased in gradually and held up against a clear set of benchmarks to limit unintended consequences.

Stewart Rabinowitz is President of Rabinowitz & Rabinowitz, P.C. Mr. Rabinowitz is Board Certified in Immigration and Nationality Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. To contact a Dallas immigration lawyer or Dallas immigration attorney visit Rabinowitzrabinowitz.com