Business Interests Seek to Undermine E-Verify’s Effectiveness

E-VerifyIt is no surprise that business interests oppose a mandatory E-Verify system that is intended to deny jobs to illegal alien workers. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce supports mandatory E-Verify but only on the condition that federal law preempts states from taking any action to penalize employers who fail to comply. This newfound support for mandatory E-Verify came about after the Supreme Court decided against the Chamber (Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting) and in favor of Arizona, which had made E-Verify mandatory for all employers in the state and instituted penalties for those  criminal employers who failed to comply. Reading the writing on the wall, the Chamber shifted its strategy, while trying to portray itself as pro-enforcement. The Chamber recognizes that the federal government has failed to enforce existing immigration law, in large measure due to intense lobbying by the Chamber, and it is willing to bet it can forestall any vigorous implementation and enforcement of a national E-Verify system. President Obama’s unconstitutional and illegal executive actions on immigration, and the Republican leadership’s failure to take the necessary step to use the power of the purse to prevent them from being carried out, have demonstrated that a law passed by Congress is now is merely a suggestion.

If mandatory national E-Verify became law, such as proposed in legislation (H.R. 1772) authored by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), and Congress ensured that the executive branch complied in executing that law, employers who currently ignore the voluntary E-Verify system would have to begin screening new hires to assure that they are legally entitled to work. For some, that may endanger their current practice of ignoring the legal status of foreign workers, and this is leading to the use of scare tactics to stir up opposition in the business community and among the public to a national E-Verify system.

An example of this may be seen in an article in March 10 issue of The Hill written by Alex Nowrasteh of the pro-big business Cato Institute. He argues that the current E-Verify program “…sometimes rejects people who are legally eligible to work.” While that is true, he avoids clarifying that the number of such cases is a tiny fraction of cases and that there is a fail-safe system that is part of E-Verify to challenge and overturn erroneous negative results. The business lobby does not have a single compelling poster child of someone who was wrongfully denied a job by the E-Verify system, let alone a slew of legal workers who have been shut out of the job market by E-Verify.

Without the prospect of legal workers denied jobs, the argument by Cato and business interests is that the system proposed by H.R. 1772 would inevitably undergo ‘mission creep.’ Nowrasteh uses the Social Security number system as an example in which the SSN has become a much expanded personal identification system not envisioned at the time it was established. But, that argument suffers from the fact that the SSN, whether one supports this or not, now serves as an all-purpose identification system. There is no space for the kind of mission creep Cato threatens for E-Verify.

What is really at stake in the proposed legislation is a system to effectively deny the ability of employers to claim that they did not know they were hiring illegal workers. When that system is in place, both illegal border crossers and legal entrants who now violate their visa status by staying and taking jobs will be discouraged from coming and/or remaining by the lack of job opportunities. That is a key element in gaining border security.

The E-Verify system needs additional improvement because there still are millions of illegal aliens who have legally issued SSNs or stolen SSNs who should be screened out. But that is not the job of employers. That is a responsibility of the operator of the E-Verify system – the Department of Homeland Security – working with the Social Security Administration.

About Author


Jack, who joined FAIR’s National Board of Advisors in 2017, is a retired U.S. diplomat with consular experience. He has testified before the U.S. Congress, U.S. Civil Rights Commission, and U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform and has authored studies of immigration issues. His national and international print, TV, and talk radio experience is extensive (including in Spanish).


  1. avatar

    It’s plain to see that Texas, Louisiana, and Arizona (less John McCain) politicians are taking a strong stance against illegal immigration. As are most of the other southern states. Where is the push from the other so-called conservatives of other Red States? If the Republican Party expects to be a viable entity in the future, then they will have to put the will of the people ahead of their political aspirations. If not, they may as well concede now, because the Democrats are hell bent on adding 12 million new unlawful voters to solidify their unlawful political yearnings.

    • avatar
      cynthia curran on

      Outside of Mr Smith, Texas has the second worst record on illegal immirgation and many of its right wing polticains have made it easy for illegal immirgants to get jobs in Houston. You sir are dumbed. Louisanna also makes it ezay ofr illegal immirgants to get jobs. houston is 2nd to LA in illegalimmirgants. Just becazuse Lamar Smkith is good doesns’t mean that Texas has a good record. its even worst than the repubs in Orange COunty Ca. Houston and Dalla shas lots of ads in Spanish for workers.

    • avatar
      cynthia curran on

      Houston and Harris COunty has almost 500,000 illegal immirgnats San Diego California only 250,000. There is a lot of cheap labor in Texas, sorry a lot of red states like Texas have a lot of bull on the subject for years. Texas has 1. 6 millio0n about a million more than New York and 2nd only to California. Texas is 3rd in total percenrage of illegal immirgants and Pew Hispanic reported in 2012 no declined in illegal immrigrants. Smith ahs always been better than hypocrates like Ted Cruz who have had a guest worker scheme before the Tea Party called him out.

  2. avatar

    According to Pew, only about 10% business participate in voluntary e-verify for obvious reasons.

    Mandatory means No job, No money, No reason to stay, self deport at your own expense.

  3. avatar
    Carolina Katzagram on

    I’ve been getting dire warnings that E-Verify is going to be used as a means of establishing a national gun registry leading naturally to gun confiscation. I don’t get it. What has E-Verify to do with gun registry, if anything? If it’s simply to verify that a particular SSN was legally obtained by an American citizen, I’m all for it. That would have kept BHO from ever being employed, much less POTUS. But if SSN’s are now being issued to illegal aliens anyway, what’s the use of E-Verify?

  4. avatar
    Barbara Griffith on

    There must be more companies using E-Verify than the public knows about because yesterday I caught a news clip taken at one of the chicken plants I believe it was about keeping chickens in crowded pens and this company is changing to let the chickens loose in pens and low and behold all of the workers on one of the lines were white and looked in their 20’s or a little older. I didn’t see one Hispanic working on that line. So somethings going on.

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  6. avatar

    The CATO Institute promotes Corporatism with a Libertarian flavor. The Brookings Institute pushes Corporatism with a Liberal spin. The American Enterprise Institute champions Corporatism disguised as Conservatism.

    Not surprisingly, all three “think tanks” are funded and influenced by the executives Multi-national corporations and Wall Street investment firms, if not directly, then certainly through various non-profit “Charitable” organizations set up by the Financial Elites.

    They even receive funding from foreign entities:

    Pick a flavor. Any way you slice it, the big money elitists win and the the rest of us lose everything we hold dear.

    • avatar

      As I said below, liberals hate everything that these groups stand for and the interests they represent, except for their stands on mass immigration. I can’t tell you how many times I have read something like “even pro business groups like CATO want reform”. No, they want a never ending flow of immigrants because it helps them achieve the low wage no benefit work force they want. They want to be able to turn you down when you ask a decent salary because they know they have a guy from a foreign country who is next in line and he will work for next to nothing.

      • avatar
        cynthia curran on

        True, a lot of people on the right like Rand Paul who opposes e-verify. I seen a guy that is against open borders but is a big supporter of Rand Paul. The greatest opposition isn’t always business there are a lot of small bussinesses that like e-verfiy its the left that doesn’t want them to go home and the libertarian and some Tea party conservatives like Rand Paul that don’t want to force companies to do e-verify.

  7. avatar

    It is easy for people like Alex with a cushy job at a Washington think tank like CATO to be opposed to E-Verify. He knows that he is not at risk of being replaced by a worker in this country illegally, and he is more than happy to stab American workers in the back as long as he is paid the big bucks by greedy, unethical businessman. He doesn’t care about the damage done to American communities, the damage done to our schools, the Americans killed, raped, etc. by illegal aliens. I don’t know how Washington lowlifes like Alex can live with themselves.

  8. avatar

    E-verify is by far the biggest bang for the buck when it comes to control of illegal immigration. It would greatly reduce both illegal border crossers and visa overstayers because it eliminates the very thing that many are coming here for, the chance to get a job and then wait for the next amnesty.

    As pointed out, guys like Alex Nowrasteh have nothing but lies and distortion to counter that argument. I mean, seriously, he claims that SS numbers submitted would be used for another purpose? Hello? They already are. Doctor’s offices, credit cards, schools, they are used for everything. Wake up Alex, that argument was settled decades ago.

    McDonald’s is already using e-verify. If Nowrasteh claims that it “sometimes rejects people who are legally eligible to work”, then let’s hear the names of those people who were permanently barred. No one thinks a person should be rejected solely because of a no match and numbers should not be run until after being hired. But if the number comes back it’s no problem to let them keep working for a month until it’s straightened out. What Nowrasteh won’t acknowledge is that most illegals will simply not apply because they know it’s not worth it to keep getting a job that lasts a month and then they are out of work.

    SS has known for years that some are using false and stolen numbers. A person born here or who entered legally knows where that happened and when. This is another example of how liberals line up to drink the koolade of libertarian pro business organizations like CATO, who they disagree with on everything else. Not to mention that allowing in millions of people to settle here means they will end up voting for the politicians who want the high taxes and liberal social programs that are anathema to the people who make up CATO. It’s like a death wish with these pro business groups. Eventually those new voters will put an end to the kind of government you want. It’s already happened in California.