National Immigration Forum

Practical Solutions for Immigrants and America

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E-Verify: Could Make Social Security Problems Worse

September 01, 2009 - Posted by Katherine Vargas



The government is forging ahead with its plans for expansion of the deeply flawed E-Verify program without addressing our immigration problems through real, comprehensive immigration reform. E-Verify has been a voluntary program whose purpose is to allow employers to electronically verify the information that workers present to prove their employment eligibility by accessing information in databases maintained by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA).


Numerous reports have documented the shortcomings of E-Verify - including the high error rate of E-Verify databases and the vulnerabilities to employer fraud and misuse. Moreover, E-Verify would place the sole responsibility to administer the massive new program on the Social Security Administration, an agency that already has its plate full preparing for the pending retirement of the baby boomers and with pending disability claims.  National Public Radio (NPR) reported on Monday on how SSA is already overburdened by its primary mission of administering critical benefits to the public:


The Social Security Administration has struggled with growing waiting lists of people seeking disability benefits. As the baby boom generation got older, more people got sick and disabled — and applied for benefits…


One and a half million Americans are now waiting for a decision [on disability benefits]. The backlog hit a peak late last year — and then started to drop.


Social Security Struggles With Disability Backlog, August 31, 2009


Rep. Michael McNulty (D-NY) and Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) said it best in a letter to their colleague Members of Congress:


The current proposals for employment verification are unworkable for the Social Security Administration and they threaten progress in reducing the disability claims backlog. 

Letter to House Democratic colleagues, Washington, DC. March 27, 2008


Moreover, expanding a flawed program that would further hurt the economy while doing next to nothing to prevent the employment of unauthorized workers, does not make economic sense.


After federal court litigation and four implementation delays, the government will begin enforcing the mandatory E-Verify employment verification rule for federal contractors beginning September 8. NPR reports on the reaction by both business and labor who believe that E-Verify is not ready for prime time and that workers and businesses would pay a high price for the E-Verify database errors.


Employers say they'll comply but insist the law leaves them vulnerable to legal action if someone were denied employment because of an electronic mistake.


…Gerry Fritz is spokesman for the Associated Builders and Contractors. He says E-verify is a cumbersome computer program that requires new hires to be checked against more than 425 million records in the Social Security Administration's databases and more than 60 million records at the Department of Homeland Security. “Somewhere along the line, I suspect there will be a glitch” said Fritz.


Unions are also critical of E-Verify. Ana Avendaño, Director of the Immigrant Worker Program of the AFL-CIO, says the law doesn't address a larger problem - the vulnerability of undocumented workers. “It is not sustainable for our economy to have 12 to 20 million people without rights as working people. We have to have legalization” said Avendaño.


Ruling Makes Federal Contractors Responsible For Immigration Status, August 31, 2009


In the absence of comprehensive immigration reform, expanding the flawed E-Verify program will only make a bad situation worse. It would overwhelm the Social Security Administration at a time when it has a backlog of over half-a-million cases and it would further increase the cost of doing business in a tough economic time.

Photo by Kongharald

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