E.g., 08/01/2014
E.g., 08/01/2014

E-Verify: Strengths, Weaknesses, and Proposals for Reform

Policy Briefs
February 2011

E-Verify: Strengths, Weaknesses, and Proposals for Reform

An effective electronic eligibility verification system is an essential component of the U.S. immigration system, but questions as to whether the E-Verify employment verification system should be made mandatory remain. This Insight examines the strengths and weaknesses of E-Verify, which has grown dramatically in recent years, and discusses proposals for reform, including adding biometric screening to the system.

Notwithstanding important steps taken by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to increase the system’s timeliness, accuracy, and oversight of employer compliance, E-Verify remains vulnerable to identity fraud and employer misuse, offers no ability to detect off-the-books employment, and is costly. As a result, enactment of new E-Verify mandates without broader immigration reform may do more to harm the economy and U.S. workers than to deter illegal immigration and to protect U.S. jobs.

Any new E-Verify mandate runs a high risk of adverse unintended consequences, so changes should be phased in gradually and evaluated against concrete performance benchmarks. The most promising strategy for successful expansion of E-Verify is to link new employment verification mandates to a targeted or comprehensive immigration reform effort. In this, employers and unauthorized workers would have incentives to use the program and comply with its requirements.

Table of Contents 

I. Introduction

II. A Brief History of E-Verify

III. E-Verify Prevents Some Types of Document Fraud

IV. E-Verify Is Vulnerable to Identify Fraud and Employer Noncompliance

V. Erroneous Nonconfirmations

VI. Additional Concerns

VII. Efforts to Prevent Identify Fraud and Employer-Misuse Have a Limited Impact

VIII. Proposals to Expand E-Verify

IX. Proposals to Create a Biometric Verification System

X. Conclusion and Recommendations