One of the first acts of newly-elected Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee (who squeaked into office in a three-man race) was to rescind his predecessor Don Carcieri’s popular and court-approved executive order requiring all state agencies, contractors and grantees to use E-Verify.
Calling the order “an agent of divisiveness, incivility and distrust among the state’s citizens,” Chaffee fulfilled a campaign promise and also ended Rhode Island’s successful 287(g) agreement, which enabled the state troopers to arrest and charge illegal-alien gang members, fugitives, drug dealers, alien smugglers, and other non-citizens causing trouble in the Ocean State.
But even after all that, the use of E-Verify in Rhode Island continues to grow. There are now more employers using E-Verify in Rhode Island than before Chafee ended the mandate in early January, which was only partial anyway. According to figures provided to me by USCIS, since last fall when Chafee was elected, there were 2,793 RI employers enrolled; as of June 11, there were 2,870, a growth rate of nearly 3 percent.
There are strong indications that most of the RI employers who use E-Verify do so as a result of Carcieri’s executive order. Within six months after it was issued, more than 1,900 new employers enrolled, boosting participation to more than eight times what it was before (see my 2008 blog).
This tells me two things:
- If E-Verify were as onerous and ineffective as its opponents claim, surely many of those thousands of employers who enrolled just because of the mandate would have quickly dropped out. Obviously, it’s not.
- A simple mandate for employers to use E-Verify is what gets most employers to use it. The Rhode Island executive order had no penalties or sanctions for enforcement—it simply said that all state agencies, contractors, sub-contractors, grantees and vendors shall use it. This supports the theory behind Rep. Lamar Smith’s new bill to create a federal universal E-Verify mandate—that the mandate is what gets most employers to comply. While the threat of criminal penalties from the state could be useful, they are not essential to achieve the goals of widespread compliance and a deterrent to illegal settlement.