WASHINGTON (July 23, 2009) – E-Verify is now being used to determine work authorization for 1 in 4 new hires nationwide according to numbers released to the Center for Immigration Studies by the Department of Homeland Security on July 4, 2009. This increase has occurred even though the E-Verify program remains voluntary at the federal level, with only 12 states requiring its use in some manner by employers. The report containing these numbers is at http://cis.org/Testimony/E-Verify-ChallengesAndOpportunities.
In 2007, when E-Verify took its current form, it was used to screen 1 in 19 new hires nationwide. The new figures represent a 274 percent increase, if usage remains steady for the remainder of this year. The number of queries so far in 2009 is about 6 million, nearly what they were for all of 2008 and twice that for 2007. If the current rate of use continues, E-Verify will be queried nearly 12.3 million times this year.
E-Verify is being used at 511,228 worksites, up from the 400,000 reported by the Department of Homeland Security in January 2009. A total of 134,702 employers have signed up to use the program. The industry sectors most using E-Verify are in the “professional, scientific and technical arena” with 72,946 employers signed up, more than twice as many as any other industry sector. Down at 20th in ranking are construction firms, at 7,959 employers using the system.
E-Verify enables cheap, efficient, and accurate compliance with the federal ban on hiring illegal aliens. More than 96.1 percent of all queries are automatically verified as employment-authorized in seconds, as discussed in Janice Kephart’s September 2008 report, “If It's Fixed, Don't Break It: Moving Forward with E-Verify” (http://cis.org/Everify). The number of non-confirmations projected for 2009 is 488,000, about 4 percent of the total number of queries. But far from representing a cause for concern, this is yet more evidence that E-Verify is doing its job, considering that 4-5 percent of the nation’s workforce is comprised of illegal aliens.
The one weak point that remains is a small problem with false positives. Continuing to make available digital photos from IDs issued to non-citizens is important to reducing identity theft, as is adding in passport photos and driver’s license photos as soon as possible. DHS will need to work hard to keep ahead of fraud – like it does with any program reliant on identity verification.
This report was prepared as testimony for a July 23, 2009, hearing before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Subcommittee on Government Management, Organization, and Procurement.