Thursday, September 10, 2009

E-Verify Program Implemented for Federal Contractors

Starting on Tuesday this week, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will now require federal contractors to use the E-Verify program to check the legal status of all new workers hired. E-Verify is a web-based enforcement system that replaces the I-9 form and, as contractors implement it within the next 90 days, it will likely result in a number of workers being turned away from potential jobs. USCIS estimates that this requirement affects approximately 4 million workers.

News articles indicate that E-Verify is a flawed system, in that mistakes are made regarding individuals' names, marital status, and other aspects of their identity. One prominent concern is that E-Verify may permit employers to check the legal status of their entire worker population, not only newly hired workers, which would be against the rule itself. Efforts have been made to counter this program, albeit unsuccessfully. A lawsuit was filed and then lost earlier this year, and the appeal filed on September 1 failed.

As an enforcement program, E-Verify targets undocumented immigrants without addressing the deeper roots of the issue at hand. I find this quite concerning, as I'm sure many of you do. While this program may deter undocumented immigrants from finding work with federal contractors, it is neither a comprehensive nor a sustainable solution. Hurting businesses and intimidating workers benefits neither the economy nor our communities.