Jul 23, 2011

Immigration Crackdown: Electronic checking system in immigration spotlight

Good explanation of how E-Verify works and its limitations. 

Electronic checking system in immigration spotlight | Reuters: "Employers are increasingly being required to use a free, Internet-based system operated by the government to check that a new employee can work legally in the United States.

The system, called E-Verify, has been developed over 15 years and is operated by the Department of Homeland Security in partnership with the Social Security Administration. It has steadily improved but critics say still has a long way to go.

From 88,000 employers enrolled in fiscal year 2008 who checked 6.6 million records, E-Verify participation rose to 216,000 employers in 2010 who checked 13.4 million records.

As of June 22, 271,460 employers were participating with approximately 11 million records checked so far in fiscal 2011, according the Department of Homeland Security website. ...

Employers enter into the Web-based system the employee's date of birth and then either a social security number or a passport or visa number. The system checks the information against government databases. While the employer waits, the system returns either an authorization or a "tentative non-confirmation," or TNC.

If the system returns a TNC, the employee has eight days to contest the report. If the employee in the end remains unauthorized, the employer is required to fire the employee. The system is only run on new hires, not job applicants.

In a report in December 2010, the Government Accounting Office said that in fiscal year 2009 E-Verify "immediately confirmed" about 97.4 percent (or 8.2 million) newly hired workers as authorized, compared to 92 percent in fiscal 2006.

But government officials have said there's no way yet to determine exactly how many TNC's were actually unauthorized to work - or how many were actually legal workers caught up in a system that can make mistakes.

The biggest problem is that E-Verify is still easily defrauded with borrowed or stolen information, experts say.

Congressman John Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, said because of error rates and other issues, he doesn't support making E-Verify mandatory."

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