Basic Pilot / E-Verify – Why Mandatory Employer Participation Will Hurt Workers, Businesses, and the Struggling U.S. Economy

Source: National Immigration Law Project, February 2009

Basic Pilot/E-Verify is a voluntary Internet-based program whose purpose is to allow employers to electronically verify the information that workers present to prove their employment eligibility by accessing information in databases maintained by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA). As of January 8, 2009, approximately 100,000 employers were enrolled in Basic Pilot/EVerify — slightly more than 1 percent of the approximately 7.4 million employers in the U.S. Only half of those enrolled, however, actually use the program.

While Basic Pilot/E-Verify often is portrayed as the magic bullet that would curb the hiring of unauthorized workers, since its inception in 1997 the program has been plagued by multitude problems that adversely affect both workers and businesses. Numerous entities, including the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General (SSA-OIG), and a research firm under contract with DHS, have found that Basic Pilot/E-Verify has significant weaknesses, including (1) its reliance on government databases that have unacceptably high error rates and (2) employer misuse of the program to take adverse actions against workers.

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