E‑Verify is a government program that is intended to stop the hiring of illegal immigrants. Firms that sign up for E‑Verify are supposed to enter the identity information of new hires into the government’s E‑Verify website. E‑Verify then checks that identity information, which is supposed to come from identity documents that the new hire provides, against information in government databases to guarantee that the new hire is eligible to work in the United States. The state of Florida is currently considering whether to mandate E‑Verify for some employers.
If E‑Verify returns a tentative non‐confirmation (TNC) then the employer and new employee have a specific amount of time to resolve it by correcting errors or supplying different information. If E‑Verify is not satisfied then it issues a final non‐confirmation (FNC) and identifies the new hire as an illegal immigrant. At that point, the employer must fire the new hire. The intent of the program is to make it very difficult or impossible for illegal immigrants to work in the United States.
That’s how E‑Verify is supposed to work. Based on a government answer to a FOIA that Cato filed, we are now able to look at the number of E‑Verify cases per state per year and the number of cases where E‑Verify found that a new hire is ineligible to work. The number of cases is the number of E‑Verify checks run by employers. These new data confirm one major problem with E‑Verify and reveal another: It just doesn’t work.
First, E‑Verify mandates do not result in mandatory use of E‑Verify. As we’ve explained elsewhere, a large percentage of new hires aren’t even run through the program. Arizona mandated E‑Verify for all new hires beginning on January 1, 2008. From then through the second quarter of 2016, the last quarter of information provided by the FOIA, an annual average of just 67 percent of new hires were run through E‑Verify (Table 1). According to Arizona’s mandate, 100 percent of new hires in Arizona were supposed to be run through E‑Verify. If Arizona can’t even force about one‐third of all new hires to be run through E‑Verify then the program is in deep trouble.
This article by Alex Nowrasteh first appeared at CATO.
Image: A member of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Removal Operations (ERO) (San Francisco and Northern California) Fugitive Operations teams is pictured during an operation in San Jose, California, U.S. September 25, 2019. REUTERS/Kate Munsch