E-Verify: A Public Debate

Recently, President Bush issued an executive order requiring all Federal Government Contractors to participate in the E Verify program. The mandate goes into effect on January 15, 2009. Contractors have 30 days from the award of the contract to enroll in an E Verify program and once enrolled they must use the program to verify the employment eligibility of any new hires within in 90 days of employment. All existing workers who are assigned to the contract must also be verified.

In a recent article, Jim Harper of the Cato Institute criticized the government's E Verify program. "The wave of fear that followed the 9/11 attacks built up the walls - both figurative and literal. President Bush continued to seek comprehensive immigration law reform throughout his tenure, but without success." Harper goes on to say that the Bush administration gave the reform job over to congress and shortly thereafter DHS announced steps to tighten employment eligibility verification.

Harper sees the program as a form of "internal enforcement," a non-entity that requires employers to act as immigration officials on behalf of the US Government. With strict fines incurred against any employer who fails to meet the requirements of E Verify and 7 states with mandated E Verify programs, employers have every reason to be informed.

Harper also sees the program as an anti-immigration program, obviously alienating illegal immigrants. But he also claims that the "Tentative Non-Confirmation" or "No Match" that employers receive when their workers' names and Social Security Numbers do not correspond to the SSA database increase an employers liability.

Understanding that this issue is much larger than simple employment verification, Liberty offers the service to our clients through our partner, Form I9. Though the legalese and the looming threat of fines are both complex and overwhelming, our partner offers a superior program with step by step instructions on how to resolve those "No Match" results, giving detailed information on where the rights of the employer begin and end, detailing the rights of the employee. The electronic archive also ensures our clients have the proper documentation should they be audited for compliance. And, at Liberty, we make every effort to understand the changing laws and inform our clients.

In this moment, E Verify is a hotly contested program that seeks to eliminate illegal workers and empower those immigrants who have been granted the right to work. But is the program successful? Only time will tell, and it hasn't been implemented long enough to determine the results of the program.