Illegal immigration: Does the E-Verify program do more harm than good?

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – How effective is the E-Verify program when it comes to cracking down on illegal immigration?

Senator Mitt Romney says “it’s the most effective thing we can do,” while an attorney tells ABC4 News it’s a “bureaucratic nightmare.”

According to its website, “E-Verify is a web-based system that allows enrolled employers to confirm the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States. E-Verify employers verify the identity and employment eligibility of newly hired employees by electronically matching information provided by employees on the Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, against records available to the Social Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

“It’s not that simple,” Seth Ashton, Attorney at Wilner & O’Reilly, explained. “It gets complicated quickly when you have a system that looks to cross-reference between two unassociated government agencies, mixed with state agencies, mixed with identification. There have been problems in the past and there continue to be problems now.”

The American Civil Liberties Union outlined 10 problems with E-Verify.

  1. Rampant Data Errors Will Hurt Ordinary People
  2. Lack Of Sufficient Due Process Protections
  3. E-Verify Will Become Even More Susceptible To Misuse By Employers
  4. E-Verify Errors Will Have Discriminatory Effects
  5. E-Verify Will Create Significant New Privacy and Security Threats
  6. Lack Of Government Readiness For This Program Will Worsen Other Problems
  7. It Will Cost a Fortune
  8. It Will Inevitably Be Expanded
  9. E-Verify Won’t Be Effective
  10. 10.E-Verify Represents A Move Toward A “Permission Society”

“It’s a system that can be important and I understand that. But it’s a lot like the credit reporting agencies where it’s not a problem until it’s a problem and then it’s a huge problem. And you have to go through all of the bureaucratic nightmares to try and fix a small problem when you are actually lawful, lawfully able to work,” Ashton told ABC4’s Brittany Johnson.

During a town hall Tuesday night, Senator Romney told the audience E-Verify is better than some of the other options out there.

“I believe we complete the fence, the wall, whatever you want to call it. I think that will have some impact and I think E-Verify is even more impactful,” said Romney, (R) Utah.

“There’s no magic bullet to stop immigration and illegal immigration. It does have to be a combination of many different things, including, and probably most importantly, fixing the immigration laws that we have now,” the attorney said.

In 2010, Utah passed the Private Employer Verification Act requiring all private employers who employ 15 or more people to verify eligibility.

Across the United States, E-Verify is a voluntary program. However, employers with federal contracts or subcontracts that contain the Federal Acquisition Regulation E-Verify clause are required to enroll in E-Verify as a condition of federal contracting.

“If it’s going to be implemented, they need to work out the bugs before they mandate this for all employers to do,” Ashton said.


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Glen Mills

Chief Political Correspondent

For this Beetdigger and Ute it’s an honor to be doing what he loves in his home state! Glen is an award-winning journalist, who joined the ABC4 News team in June 2013. You can catch him anchoring ABC4 News at 5 and 6, Monday through Friday. He also serves as our Senior Political Correspondent, keeping you up to date on issues that impact your life at the city, state and national level. His political reports run throughout the week, and he hosts Inside Utah Politics, Sunday mornings at 8. The Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has recognized Glen as the best government and military television reporter in the state. Before returning home to Utah, he spent 11 1/2 years developing his journalism skills in other states. He held various on-air and management positions at KPVI in Pocatello, Idaho, WGBA in Green Bay, Wisconsin and KKCO in Grand Junction, Colorado during that time. Read More...