E-Verify Improvements Needed to Ensure a Legal Workforce

Apr 14, 2011
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SHRM-led coalition offers recommendations for efficient electronic verification system to House subcommittee

Washington, D.C., April 14, 2011 — A federal electronic employment-verification system would ensure a legal workforce and help prevent unauthorized employment, a representative of a coalition led by the Society for Human Resource Management told a U.S. House subcommittee today.

Noting that vigilant enforcement of immigration laws in the workplace is an integral part of any successful immigration-reform package, Austin T. Fragomen told the Ways and Means Committee’s Subcommittee on Social Security: “Effective enforcement is only possible with a system that provides employers with certainty and treats employers as partners — not suspects.”

Fragomen is chairman of the board of the American Council on International Personnel, which with the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) leads the HR Initiative for a Legal Workforce.

Fragomen told the hearing, which examined the Social Security Administration’s role in verifying employment eligibility, that accurate technology is critical.

Improving the current federal worksite enforcement program would eliminate the need for inconsistent state and local laws that confuse employers, he added.

The current E-Verify is an Internet based system that requires an employer to enter identity information on new employees. The process is designed to ensure that employees aren’t in the United States illegally and thus ineligible to work.

Fragomen outlined problems with the system, including identity fraud — which poses substantial problems for employers who are held accountable for enforcing the law — mistakes in data accuracy and burdens on legal U.S. workers.

He offered the subcommittee solutions that would curb unauthorized employment while not penalizing unsuspecting employers for paperwork or procedural errors. He recommended:

  • Providing funding and resources to reconcile mismatches in the Social Security database;
  • Providing clearer instructions to employers when mismatches with Social Security occur;
  • Applying the verification requirement only to new hires;
  • Incorporating biometric or other “paperless” technology to remove guesswork;
  • Creating a federal electronic verification system that pre-empts the confusing patch-work of state laws.
He praised similar components of the New Employee Verification Act, sponsored by subcommittee chair Rep. Sam Johnson of Texas and Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona.

A SHRM survey showed that 92 percent of employers want to participate in an electronic verification program provided “the system is accurate, efficient and easy to use,” Fragomen said.

He concluded, “As E-Verify expands, we should make it a truly electronic system by eliminating the current paper-based I-9 process and establish a streamlined process for verification.”

Media: For more information or to schedule an interview, contact Kate Kennedy of SHRM Media Relations at 703-535-6260 and kate.kennedy@shrm.org or Jennifer Hughes at 703-535-6072 and jennifer.hughes@shrm.org.

About the Society for Human Resource Management

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest association devoted to human resource management. Representing more than 250,000 members in over 140 countries, the Society serves the needs of HR professionals and advances the interests of the HR profession. Founded in 1948, SHRM has more than 575 affiliated chapters within the United States and subsidiary offices in China and India. Visit SHRM Online at www.shrm.org. Follow us on Twitter at: @SHRMPress
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