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Overview of the E-Verify Bill

What is the E-Verify Bill?

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The Legal Workforce Act, commonly referred to as the E-Verify Bill, determines whether immigrants are eligible to work in the United States.

The bill, also referred to as HR 2885, recently made it through the judiciary committee and will soon be debated in a Republican Congressional Committee.

The E-Verify Bill would require all businesses to use E-Verify, a free government program that uses social security numbers to check if job applicants are legal to work in the U.S. Currently, the program is required in Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina and Utah, but this bill aims to make E-Verify mandatory nation-wide.

The bill would phase in mandatory use depending on the size of a business. Businesses with more than 10,000 employees would be required to comply within six months, and businesses with 500-9,999 would have a year. Businesses with 20-499 employees would have 18 months, and all others would have two years.

Potential Benefits

Proponents of the bill claim that the enaction of the E-Verify Bill will have a number of positive effects:

  1. Quicker web-based approach – Moves the verification process away from the current paper-based approach
  2. Prevents illegal immigrants – Provides additional checks that will also open up new opportunities for out-of-work American citizens
  3. Agricultural friendly – Allows agricultural employers to rehire seasonal migrant workers without verification
  4. Streamlined process – Eliminates the use of the I-9 form, reducing paper waste

Potential Negatives

Critics of the bill cite a number of reasons why the E-Verify Bill is a step in the wrong direction, including the following:

  1. Privacy concerns – Creates a de facto national identification system, infringing on privacy concerns.
  2. Costly – Would cost employers millions in lost labor and lost production.
  3. Burdensome – Places the burden of immigration enforcement on the private sector. There’s a high rate of error, flagging eligible workers as ineligible.
  4. Ineffective against illegal immigration – A study by the Center for American Progress suggests E-Verify only flags ineligible employees 46% of the time.
  5. Expensive to Implement – Some estimates suggest it would cost small businesses more than $2.5 billion to comply.

Conclusion

In a rare twist, despite this being a Republican bill, opponents including far-right organizations, Democrats and businesses are all coming together against the bill, which is making its passage look less and less likely.