E-Verify dropped from stimulus bill

The updated $789 billion economic stimulus package going to the House and Senate for votes today does not require E-Verify employment verification for contracts created with stimulus funding.

House and Senate conference negotiators dropped the E-Verify provisions in the 1,073-page final version of the legislation circulating today. Previously, the House had included in its stimulus bill a stipulation that all contracts paid for with stimulus funding must use E-Verify, but the Senate version had no E-Verify language.

E-Verify is an Internet-based program promoted by the Bush administration to allow employers to submit Social Security numbers for new hires and existing employees. If there is a match, the employee is eligible to work. If not, there are procedures for further assessments.

Currently, about 100,000 employers voluntarily use E-Verify, formerly known as Basic Pilot. Under an executive order issued by President George W. Bush, federal contractors are supposed to start using E-Verify in May, though business groups are challenging the order in court.

Critics point to relatively high error rates in the government databases used to determine initial eligibility. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which jointly runs the program with the Social Security Administration, estimates that about 4,000 U.S. workers in every 1 million would be initially denied eligibility because of the database errors.

Groups such as the Immigration Policy Center refer to E-Verify as “deeply flawed” because of the error rates and have warned of the danger of American workers losing or risking their jobs because of the shortcomings in E-Verify. They also said E-Verify would slow the impact of the stimulus spending.

On the other side, E-Verify supporters including the Federation for American Immigration Reform consider it to be a useful tool to protect jobs in the United States from going to illegal immigrants.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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