E-Verify Debate May Heat Up

March 14, 2012

Mandatory E-Verify supporters have stepped up efforts to pass the Legal Workforce Act (H.R. 2885) through a series of TV advertisements on the issue directed at the Republican leadership in the House. NSBA has registered opposition to this legislation and, as such, has formed a coalition in opposition to mandatory E-Verify with small business, farming and civil liberties organizations, among others.

The Legal Workforce Act would require all employers to use the federal E-Verify database to check the status of each new hire. More unauthorized workers are deemed authorized by the system (3.3 percent of all E-verify cases) than are found unauthorized to work (2.9 percent of all E-verify cases).

On average, 0.7 percent of authorized workers are found unauthorized initially (a tentative non-confirmation or TNC). There are four to five million new hires in the U.S. per month. That means that E-verify will deny employment opportunities for about 28,000 to 35,000 Americans per month (340,000 to 420,000 annually) or force them to navigate a bureaucratic morass, usually for months.

USCIS and SSA estimate that about 60 million queries would be generated annually under E-Verify if the program were made mandatory for new hires nationwide. These agencies estimate that 164,000 people will be given a TNC for name-related reasons alone.

It currently takes over three months or thereabouts to resolve database errors. If the system is mandatory for all employers’ new hires, it will be swamped and it will take many, many months and potentially a year to resolve mistakes. Businesses will be unable to discharge those with tentative non-confirmations even though the odds are they will be unlawful to hire.

Under the legislation, businesses would be subject to civil fines up to $25,000 and criminal penalties up to 10 years in prison and criminal fines of $15,000 per illegal immigrant for non-compliance.

NSBA is urging all small-business owners to take a moment today and urge their lawmakers to oppose mandatory E-verify proposals. Please click here for NSBA’s draft letter which you can personalize and then send along to your Representative and Senators.

For more information on the NSBA-led coalition to oppose mandatory E-Verify, please click here.