A new system that would force all employers in the United States to check whether or not job applicants had legal authorization to work could turn into a bureaucratic nightmare for both immigrants and ordinary US citizens alike, according to some critics. The E-Verify system, which is part of the package of comprehensive immigration reforms that has just been passed by the Senate, draws on official databases in order to work out if someone is legally able to work in the US.
The reform package also includes the creation of a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants that are currently living in the US, the bolstering of the US-Mexico border and the enforcement of the use of the currently optional E-Verify system on a national basis.
While pro-immigrant groups are willing to accept the latter as a part of the reform package they believe that the system is badly in need of improving. “The problem is that the government databases on which the system relies has a lot of errors within them,” says the National Immigration Law Center worker’s rights attorney, Joshua Stehlik. “These errors particularly impact non-US citizen workers as well as female workers and workers who have non-traditional last names.” These mistakes can end up costing the applicant a job opportunity through no fault of their own.
The E-Verify system is currently in use in 20 states by around 7% of US employers. All companies will have to begin using it within four years of the proposed reform becoming law.