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To E-Verify or Not, That is the Question!

A recent posting in Ezra Klein’s column in the Washington Post asked the question about the validity of forcing companies to use the E-Verify system.  The author, Suzy Khimm, asks the question of whether companies should be forced to use E-Verify, or Instant Verification of Work Authorization, as their primary verification system.  She indicates that the states are once again taking the lead in the implementation of the system designed to verify the social security numbers of new hires with the databases at the Social Security Administration and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Thus far 13 states had made the use of the system mandatory and New Jersey is currently considering implementing it for all companies with over 100 employees.  At issue are two forces at play in the country right now – worker misclassification and the hiring of illegals, whether intentional or not.  In other words, if you hire someone based on a positive response on E-Verify and it turns out in a subsequent raid or IRS audit that they are illegal, you will be liable for a fine or possible trip to the iron cage.  That is tough to do when you are trying to run a construction business.

The issue, according to Khimm, a political reporter for Mother Jones, is that right now the system is seriously flawed in that it can positively clear illegals as much as 54% of the timeThat is risky for construction industry owners who will have to use the system on a routine basis.  Senator Chuck Schumer and other sensible immigration leaders are pushing for an alternate system of biometric or fingerprint identification as the primary means for identification of workers who are legally approved for the workplace.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is resisting the biometric approach and is pushing hard on the widespread use of the E-Verify system.  This is an issue that we should watch closely in light of the current move in the White house and the IRS to undertake 6,000 random audits for misclassification and the hiring of illegal workers.

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