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Migrant Advocates Say Employment Verification Hurting Economic Recovery

July 10, 2009

Tucson, AZ – The U.S. Senate is moving to expand the federal system for determining employment eligibility so that current workers will be checked along with new hires. Jennifer Allen, immigration advocate for the Border Action Network, says the changes to E-verify will harm qualified U.S. citizens and non-citizens alike by falsely denying them work.

"The system has been found to be full of error. You can get all sorts of false negative responses from it. The database is just simply not ready."

Supporters of E-verify say such errors are easily corrected by visiting a Social Security office. But, Allen says the additional red tape and workforce disruptions will harm business, especially small business, and slow the economic recovery.

Subjecting existing workers to an E-verify check, she adds, will mean many will lose their jobs.

"There’s a large percentage of people in this country that do not have sufficient documentation; that don’t have government-issued ID, and it’s not because they’re not legal workers."

Allen estimates 21 million U.S. citizens don’t possess a government photo ID, as required by E-verify. She adds, the program doesn’t address the real immigration problem, which is how to match up millions of willing undocumented workers in this country with the thousands of businesses who want to hire them.

"The problem is not that the system doesn’t work for verification. The problem is that workers and employers don’t have policies and practices in place in which they can hire people legally and legitimately."

Allen hopes President Obama follows through on his pledge to enact comprehensive immigration reform this year.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ