Thread: E-VERIFY - STAMP OF APPROVAL
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02-24-2013, 06:14 PM #1
E-VERIFY - STAMP OF APPROVAL
STAMP OF APPROVAL
Immigration reform could result in mandatory employment checks
By Elizabeth Aguilera12:01 a.m.Feb. 24, 2013Updated9:41 p.m.Feb. 22, 2013
What is E-Verify?
Free database system that employers use to verify an applicant’s work status.
Concept for a national employment-verification system was the 1996 brainchild of Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Lake Elsinore, CA.
In 1997, the Basic Pilot employment-check hotline was launched.
E-Verify is mandatory for federal agencies and their contractors. Voluntary for all other employers, except in Arizona and Mississippi.
Number of businesses in San Diego County that use E-Verify
Virtually everyone in the immigration debate agrees on the following point: This year, after decades of wrangling, lawmakers will require employers nationwide to verify whether an applicant is eligible to work.
The system would cover all residents, from U.S. citizens to immigrants with work permits to people living in this nation without permission.
Business and immigrant advocacy groups that have opposed the idea — they believe it would unduly burden companies — are resigned to it this time around because Congress and President Barack Obama back mandatory employment checks. Supporters of the proposal view it as a critical step in minimizing unauthorized immigration.
Plans being floated in Washington, D.C., include a system modeled after E-Verify, a free and largely voluntary program being used by 429,100 business locations nationwide — including 3,634 in San Diego County.
The local participants span all industries, including Rubio’s, the Viejas Tribal Gaming Commission, Ayres Hotel Alpine, Dexter Wilson Engineering, Gaskill Painting Company, La Jolla Country Club, Miller Marine, Basile Construction, Bread & Cie, East Village Tavern & Bowl and Jack in the Box Inc.
“E-Verify works, and it must be the starting point for any immigration-reform legislation along with border security,” said Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Lake Elsinore, whose legislation in 1996 created the nation’s first employment verification hotline.
The toll-free hotline, which began a year later, eventually led to the 2007 formation of the E-Verify computer database system.
“If we cut off the job magnet, that will end the incentive for people to cross the border illegally in the first place,” Calvert said. “It’s important ... that jobs go to American citizens and people who are here legally.”
People who have been wary of E-Verify are anxious to get the legislative specifics, such as how the program will be rolled out, potential penalties for violations and measures for maximizing accuracy.
“It’s inevitable we are moving in that direction, and I want to make sure it is imposed in a way that does not create an additional burden on small business,” said Ruben Barrales, who served as CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce until December.
Barrales worries that smaller companies will lose time and money trying to figure out compliance, that applicants will have a tough time correcting database errors affecting them, and that hiring for key jobs will be delayed if the verification process becomes complicated.
Calvert said not having such a program in place is also a burden on businesses.
“You hire someone and you put all this money and training and time in, and then have to discharge them because you find out they are not documented,” he said. “I’ve heard from employers who want to make sure they have a legal workforce.”
An additional step
If Congress and the president mandate employment verification, everyone from major corporations to nonprofit groups to mom-and-pop shops would have to take an additional step in the hiring process.
Currently, a prospective employee presents certain vital documents — such as a driver’s license, passport, birth certificate or green card — to an employer. If that company’s or agency’s human resources department determines those documents are reasonably authentic, it will photocopy them and keep the material on file. No verification phone calls or other checks are required.
Under E-Verify, employers follow the same steps but also conduct a check with the designated database. They enter the applicant’s driver’s license, passport or green card number into the system, which is run by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service.
E-Verify either confirms that the applicant is eligible to work or sends an alert about any problems. Its answer is usually immediate, but it could take up to 24 hours.
In the case of a “mismatch” — a situation where a question arises — the employer notifies the prospective employee, and that person has a certain number of days to correct the data.
The program is voluntary for business but compulsory for federal agencies and federal contractors. Two states, Arizona and Mississippi, have required all employers to enroll.
Participants must screen every job applicant, including U.S. citizens, and they must let all applicants know about the E-Verify check. Outside of Arizona and Mississippi, companies or agencies with more than one office location can choose which sites use the system.
Government audits of the program have found it is 98.3 percent accurate, according to USCIS. Of all the mismatches raised, 0.28 percent turned out to be wrong. Most of those errors involved people who had changed their names but did not update the Social Security Administration or other federal agencies, said Calvert from Lake Elsinore.
Ahead of the curve
Locally, E-Verify participants are spread across the county.
Carlsbad Beach Hotel Properties, which owns the Beach Terrace Inn and the Beach View Lodge, has been using the system since 2010, when Magdalena Gutierrez-Wolf joined the company as its human resources representative.
She said the program was simple to set up and has been easy to use.
It has helped the company avoid hiring unauthorized workers, which allows it to focus job training on people who will not disappear if immigration authorities show up or have to be fired if federal agencies raise any issues about Social Security numbers or such, she said.
“It saves us a lot of time and money in investing in an employee who doesn’t have authorization to work,” she said. “You are required to post that you use E-Verify, so I think that helps on all fronts.”
Another benefit, she added, is that the program reminds companies when workers’ permits or green cards are due for renewal. This allows the company to update its records.
Only once has the system reported a mismatch that was ultimately a mistake, and that was because she had input a wrong number for the applicant, Gutierrez-Wolf said.
In downtown San Diego, the employment services firm Manpower San Diego has been using E-Verify for at least five years, said CEO Phil Blair. And before then, he invited immigration officials to audit Manpower’s records and teach his staff how to better spot false documents.
His office sends about 2,500 people to job sites every day in San Diego County, mostly engineers, programmers and other skilled workers.
“I’m a big fan of (E-Verify). I want our customers to feel confident that all of the employees that we send to work at their work sites are legally able to work in this country,” Blair said.
“When it does come back with a question, either the person disappears very fast or it is very helpful for the employee — usually it is someone who got married and didn’t change their name,” he added. “It could make a mistake, but nothing in life is infallible. If you are here legally, what is the big deal?”
Other industries may have a harder time, said Greg Chen, president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association in Washington, D.C. He is worried about difficulties that a mandatory verification program could create for certain businesses, especially for agriculture and other industries that rely heavily on immigrant labor.
“How is the system going to make sure that businesses are able to get their labor-force needs met?” Chen said. “We just don’t know the details, and the details are extremely important.”
Chen hopes that whatever plan emerges will call for a gradual phase-in, exemptions for some industries and protections for workers who carry green cards or work permits.
“There is a concern that people will be less inclined to hire people of certain ethnic backgrounds,” Chen said. “You can’t know what people’s immigration status is, but those with foreign sounding names or accents or Latinos may be more likely to not be hired.”
While participating employers are supposed to use E-Verify to screen all new applicants, it is unclear how that requirement is regulated. Companies are given reams of information about how the program works during their online enrollment process.
In Bonita, Hans & Harry Bakery signed up with E-Verify two years ago but only uses the system to check applicants who do not present a U.S. passport, said co-owner Hans Zandee.
“I just did what I thought I needed to do,” said Zandee, a naturalized citizen from Holland. “When it’s not an American citizen, then I want to know their papers are correct. ... Why would I verify a person who has a U.S. passport? Obviously, they have been screened before.”
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02-24-2013, 09:37 PM #2
Americans first in this magnificent country
American jobs for American workers
Fair trade, not free trade
02-25-2013, 02:09 AM #3
But before we use mandatory e-verify, we are going to give amnesty to 11 million illegal aliens.