Americans Reject Actual E-Verify System

by David Bier on April 9, 2013 · 4 comments

in Features, Immigration, International, Nanny State, Personal Liberty, Privacy, Regulation

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Imagine there was a free program that could guarantee for employers a legal workforce and eliminate illegal immigration. Would you favor such a system? Yes or no? This is essentially how all polls attempt to gauge the popularity of E-Verify, the electronic national identification system included in many immigration reform proposals. Then, the system’s proponents exclaim, “Americans demand E-Verify!”

Last year, for example, when Rep. Lamar Smith proposed mandating E-Verify for all employers, the electronic national identification system used to catch unauthorized workers, he cited a Pulse Opinion Research poll that found that just 11 percent of Americans opposed a mandatory E-Verify system. Of course, most Americans do not know what E-Verify is, so how did this poll explain E-Verify?

There is a federal program known as E-Verify which allows employers to electronically verify the Social Security numbers of the people they hire to ensure that they are eligible to work in the U.S. Do you strongly favor, somewhat favor, somewhat oppose or strongly oppose the use of an electronic system to verify that all workers hired in the United States are legally eligible to work here?

This poll is similar to a poll finding support for the president’s stimulus packages that asked, “Do you strongly favor, somewhat favor, somewhat oppose or strongly oppose providing jobs for Americans during this time of economic uncertainty?” What person would oppose that? Similarly, how many Americans would oppose a system that quickly and inexpensively allows employers to “verify all workers hired in the United States are legally eligible to work here”? Not very many.

Never mind that E-Verify does not actually do this, that it fails to catch unauthorized workers 54 percent of the time, that it would initially deem ineligible hundreds of thousands of authorized workers, and that it requires employers to hire, train, and pay unauthorized workers during appeals, but even if it did all those things with perfect accuracy, Americans would still oppose it if only they were aware of the costs.

E-Verify opponents like myself had always suspected this to be the case, but now we have proof. A recent Reason-Rupe poll asked respondents, “Would you favor or oppose this requirement [E-Verify] if business owners have to pay $150 to verify the legal status of every worker they are considering hiring?” The $150 reference is to a government survey of employers done by the independent research firm Westat, which found that small businesses paid on average $147 per new hire to use E-Verify. How did Americans respond to this new information? In light of this fact, 58 percent of Americans would oppose E-Verify — just 37 percent still favored it. In fact, 63 percent of Republicans would oppose it.

This number of $147 is actually on the low end because according to the Westat report, all the costs came from 24 percent of users, meaning 76 percent reported no costs at all. But for this to be accurate, these “users” would have had to spend no time whatsoever on E-Verify, meaning they wouldn’t be using the program! This 76 percent number actually refers to “accounting costs,” such as buying a computer or hiring a new employee. Employers rarely report the “economic costs” of time spent, productivity and wages lost. In other words, the $147 estimate is extremely low, since it ignores the costs to most of U.S. employers.

If all Americans were ever made aware of the true costs, they would probably reject E-Verify even more overwhelmingly than they already do.

magyart April 9, 2013 at 11:17 pm

E-Verify is a FREE federal program. It’s a free and accurate electronic program that replaces the broken I-9 paper process.

Bob Bonsall April 10, 2013 at 4:10 pm

magyart, I’m not trying to be rude here, but do you really believe there’s such a thing as a free, accurate, federal program?

Donald Meade April 15, 2013 at 2:13 am

I set up office in Buffalo, NY in 2006 to begin a global hook up of world data bases in a company I called World ID Check which cost only a few dollars to verify if the person was who the ID said they were. The system could verify any form of ID and if there was a question the system would ask a mother maiden name or what have you to be absolutely sure. I tried to bring this to a global level. Can you imagine the security you would feel on an airplane or know car renters have real licenses when those around you are verified. This at a time when you could buy a drivers license for $150.00 and in fact we filmed just that, the purchase of a California license with picture in one hour. We had the attention of Homelands Security and many other authorities. Like most other business ventures I couldn’t afford to keep up costs of overhead while everyone debated who was what. The business fell by the wayside. I still have the know how and methods but wouldn’t waste a day of my time without the cash in advance. Even filed a patent on the system.

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