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The Truth About E-Verify

by Frank Sharry on 05/23/2011 at 1:34pm

e-verifyImagine if Democrats proposed legislation that would cause the loss of almost 800,000 jobs, force 4 million more workers into an administrative quagmire, cause an undue burden on small businesses, nearly wipe out the agricultural workforce, result in the loss of tax revenue – and had a failure rate of over 50%. Republicans would be absolutely apoplectic. We’d never hear the end of it. FOX News would be giving the inane idea wall-to-wall coverage.

That’s exactly what Republican members of Congress, led by the anti-immigrant “Three Amigos” in the House (Reps. Lamar SmithElton Gallegly and Steve King) and Senator Chuck Grassley are proposing. It’s called E-Verify and it’s the GOP’s latest gambit to force the deportation of all 11 million undocumented immigrants from the U.S.

Now, those members won’t exactly say that mass deportation is their goal, but it is. Their latest ploy is to push E-Verify, the massive (and flawed) government identification system onto all American business and all American workers.  Funny how they don’t hate all government mandates. They know E-Verify doesn’t work. But their zeal for mass deportation trumps common sense.

Over the next few weeks and months, we’ll hear Republicans claim unequivocally that E-Verify is the next great solution to our immigration problem.  Let’s look at some key facts about the GOP’s next “great” idea – mandatory E-Verify for all workers:

Job loss: Westat estimates that 770,000 American workers would lose their jobs due to database errors.  Already in FY10, it is estimated that 80,000 Americans unfairly lost their jobs because of E-Verify. That’s almost 800,000 jobs in an economy that still hasn’t recovered from the recession.

Errors that will affect millions of workers: Republicans hate big government, except when it comes to E-verify, which has an error rate that will impact millions. Due to the error rate of the program, the government estimates that mandatory E-verify will force between 3 million and 4.1 million American workers to get their records corrected by a government agency or lose their jobs.  These errors put an enormous burden on workers and can result in loss of wages, adverse action by employers, and loss of employment.  The Government Accounting Office called the process of fixing government database errors “formidable” and SSA reported in 2010 that 3.3 million visitors left a field office without receiving service. 

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