Since its inception, E-Verify has been one of the most successful tools available to address illegal employment, which is widely acknowledged as the primary motivation for illegal immigration. The Center's new Data Portal for government statistics includes noteworthy current data showing continued growth in E-Verify usage.
E-Verify is a free internet tool that allows employers to instantly verify whether a new employee is authorized to work in the country. The E-Verify system cross-checks information from the federal I-9 form, which must be completed for all new hires, against records from USCIS and the Social Security Administration.
The program is not mandatory for all employers nationwide, but 20 states have enacted legislation requiring its use by at least some employers (Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia). In addition, the federal government and almost all federal contractors are required to use it. Of the states with mandates, most have required state agencies and their contractors to use it, but do not extend the mandate to private employers. Four states (Alabama, Arizona, Mississippi, and Tennessee) require all employers to use E-Verify.
Over 2.4 million hiring sites were enrolled in the E-Verify program as of December 31, 2017. California listed the most hiring sites at 216,850.
USCIS reports on the total number of cases created in E-Verify for the current fiscal year. There were over 9.1 million individual cases processed throughout the country from October 1 through December 31, 2017 (the first quarter of FY 2018). Employers in Georgia processed the most cases, at 942,211.
|State||FY 2018 Cases|
The growth of the E-Verify program has been rapid, as demonstrated by the number of participating employers in the program. This data goes back to 2001, when only 1,064 employers participated in the program. By 2017, that number grew to 749,923. The highest rates of growth in E-Verify usage occurred from 2006-2009, during years when the value of the program became more widely known and when more state and local lawmakers began to realize that E-Verify mandates could be imposed by state law or by executive action.
Although the percentage growth in the number of E-Verify users is less than a decade ago (because the base is so much larger), the program is still expanding significantly every year. One reason for this is because USCIS continues to improve its accuracy and ease of use.
The statistics on E-Verify performance highlight these improvements. About 99 percent of new hire queries result in the employee being confirmed as eligible immediately or within 24 hours. Most of the remaining 1 percent are eventually found to be unauthorized. This means that the system does not lead to legal workers being denied (false negatives), which has been an objection commonly raised by E-Verify opponents.
Concerns have been raised about erroneous confirmations (false positives) that may occur due to identity theft, such as when an illegal worker uses another person's identifying information at the time of hire. As E-Verify use grows, USCIS working to maintain the integrity of the entire national identification infrastructure by developing more robust procedures to help detect impostors (such as through photo-matching and other improvements).
I've written before on the effectiveness of the E-Verify program as a tool for combating illegal immigration. In one study, researchers found that "having an E-Verify law reduces the number of less-educated, prime-age immigrants from Mexico and Central America — immigrants who are likely to be unauthorized — living in a state."
The president's fiscal year 2019 budget calls for mandatory, nationwide use of the E-Verify system, insisting that "the integrity of the immigration system relies upon everyone in the United States doing their part to follow the law. The Budget invests $23 million to expand the E-Verify Program for mandatory nationwide use, ensuring that businesses employ only those authorized to work in the United States."
E-Verify looks likely to continue its strong growth in the future, particularly since Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has begun to ramp up worksite enforcement. In addition, a phased-in E-Verify mandate is a key feature of the leading immigration enforcement reform bill in the House, known as the Securing America's Future Act (informally known as the Goodlatte bill).