Rep. Lamar Smith: Hoping to expand E-verify - The Packer

Rep. Lamar Smith: Hoping to expand E-verify

02/11/2011 04:02:39 PM
Tom Karst

One issue regarding the identity theft loophole, that I hope Ms. Bertucci will address, was noted by a 2009 Westat study on E-Verify.

The study stated that 3.3% of all E-Verify queries are for unauthorized workers and just over half (54%) of those are actually found to be work authorized. This 54% is often cited by opponents of the program.

However, it’s important that Westat says they estimated this percentage based on their assumptions of the number of illegal immigrants in the workforce. It was not based on the discovery of any illegal immigrant individuals actually in the workforce. So I would caution against using the number.

Studies by Westat and USCIS show that E-Verify’s work eligibility confirmation rates continue to improve as the system is upgraded. Last year’s USCIS data shows that 98.3% of employees were confirmed as work authorized instantly or within 24 hours. And a 2009 Westat report found that those eligible to work are immediately confirmed 99.5% of the time.

Nearly 250,000 businesses now use E-Verify. And over 1,300 more sign up for it each week.

I supported the previous Administration’s attempts to increase the number of employers using E-Verify and they did so through voluntary outreach to businesses. But they also did so by mandating certain federal contractors and others use E-Verify.

Today I hope to hear how the current Administration plans to expand on those requirements. With 26 million Americans unemployed or underemployed, expanding E-Verify would help to open up jobs they need.

Thank you Mr. Chairman and I yield back the balance of my time.

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