Report: E-verify database fails standard test
- By Alice Lipowicz
- Nov 26, 2007
The E-Verify program uses a database that does not meet accuracy standards set by Congress, according to a new report
from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
E-Verify, which allows employers to verify Social Security numbers for new workers, is jointly run by USCIS and the Social Security Administration. It was previously known as Basic Pilot and Web Basic Pilot, and renamed E-Verify in August.
The 254-page evaluation was commissioned by the immigration agency and written by Westat Inc. research group in Rockville, Md.
In the evaluation, it was found that the accuracy of the USCIS database used in E-Verify has improved in recent years, but still does not meet requirements set by Congress.
"Most importantly, the database used for verification is still not sufficiently up to date to meet the [Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996] requirement for accurate verification, especially for naturalized citizens," the report said.
USCIS and SSA accommodate this problem by providing for a manual review of these cases. However, those reviews are time-consuming and may result in discrimination against work-authorized foreign-born persons, the report said. The risk of discrimination may occur during the period the verification is ongoing if employers do not follow procedures designed to protect employee rights, the authors said.
In addition, the system remains vulnerable to errors caused by incorrect information submitted by employers, the report found.
The report found that E-Verify's authorizations for work increased from June 2005 to March 2007 when it became an Internet-based program. During that period, 92 percent of cases were found to be work-authorized, in comparison to 79 percent previously.
Most employers using the Web Basic Pilot found it to be an effective and reliable tool for employment verification, the report said. A few employers had difficulties and said the system was burdensome and unavailable, and training was difficult.
USCIS has posted a Federal Register notice that it is sponsoring a public meeting tomorrow to review the evaluation. The agency is still reviewing the E-Verify report and has no further comment at this time, a spokesman said today.
The verification program has existed for more than a decade, but is now being promoted by the Bush administration as a homeland security and immigration control measure. Until the last two years, few employers used it, but as of September USCIS said 23,000 employers had signed up for it. Under immigration reform proposals supported by the White House, E-Verify would expand to be required for millions of employers.
Expansion likely would require additional information technology investments by USCIS and SSA that are likely to be fulfilled with contract assistance.
Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.