A key part of comprehensive immigration reform will no doubt be the implementation of an electronic employment-verification system (EEVS). Since EEVS affects every single person working in the United States—immigrants and citizens alike—is it important to consider several key areas that must be addressed to make such a system workable and effective.
The Department of Homeland Security released a report this week showing that apprehensions of undocumented immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border are at their lowest level since 1973, leaving many observers contemplating the factors responsible for this decline. Is it the recession-plagued U.S. economy or beefed-up enforcement efforts? New data from a research team led by Wayne Cornelius, Director of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at the University of California, San Diego, sheds light on the decline in apprehensions and reveals the surprising, unintended consequences of border enforcement.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has released various sets of data regarding the accuracy and error rates of the E-Verify employment-verification system. Although the numbers change often depending on the time period, the number of employers using the system, and the number of queries to the system, DHS generally claims that E-Verify is highly accurate and efficient. However, it is important to understand exactly what the DHS numbers mean in order to have a clear picture of how well E-Verify is performing. Most importantly, E-Verify is not simply an immigration-enforcement tool. If it were to become a mandatory, nation-wide program, it would affect every single person who works in the United States, including U.S. citizens. Even tiny error rates would mean big problems for large numbers of citizens and other legal workers. Under mandatory E-Verify, 60 million new hires would have to be verified annually, and up to 3 million U.S. workers per year would have to navigate government bureaucracy to fix database errors. Read more...
Expanding mandatory E-Verify as part of the stimulus package would threaten the jobs of thousands of U.S. citizens, decrease productivity, saddle U.S. businesses with additional costs, and hinder the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) ability to provide benefits to needy and deserving Americans – all at a time when we need to stimulate our economy. The fact is: expanding E-Verify now would decelerate the Stimulus Package and slow America’s economic recovery.
Over the past year and a half, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona has transformed his police department into an immigration-enforcement agency, gaining international publicity in the process. Yet a growing number of elected officials, media outlets, and religious and civic leaders have criticized Sheriff Arpaio’s tactics and their impact on his community. In addition, two independent reports by the East Valley Tribune and the Goldwater Institute describe a Sheriff’s department where crime-solving is down and racial profiling and budget expenditures are way up.
Over the past year and a half, County Sheriff Joe Arpaio of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) has transformed his police department into an immigration-enforcement agency, gaining international notoriety in the process. The East Valley Tribune of metro-Phoenix, Arizona, recently ran a series of articles chronicling its investigation of the immigration-enforcement activities of MCSO. Using MCSO case files, interviews with top-ranking officers, and other sources of data, reporters uncovered startling facts about the enormous price tag—both financial and social—of the Sheriff’s antics.
Many who support deportation-only immigration measures are advocating for a universal electronic employment verification system (EEVS). Bills such as the “Secure America Through Verification and Enforcement (SAVE) Act” (H.R. 4088) and the “New Employee Verification Act of 2008” (H.R. 5515) would place enormous additional responsibilities on the Social Security Administration (SSA)—a critical but overburdened agency. In fact, H.R. 5515, authored by Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX), would saddle the SSA with the job of administering the new mandatory and massive employment verification system.
Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, changes in federal, state, and local law-enforcement priorities and practices have had a profound impact on America’s Muslims, Arabs, and South Asians. Some of these policy shifts applied exclusively or primarily to those communities, such as the federal “special registration” program, selective enforcement of immigration laws based on national origin or religion, and expanded federal counter-terrorism efforts that targeted these communities. At the same time, a wide range of ethnic groups have been affected by the use of state and local police agencies to enforce federal immigration law, and the aggressive use of detention and deportation authority for even minor infractions and technicalities.
Across the United States, police departments and Muslim, Arab, and South Asian communities have responded with varied approaches to the new post-September 11 reality. In some cities, serious tensions between law-enforcement agencies and immigrant communities have arisen. Other cities have taken steps to alleviate these tensions and promote dialogue and cooperation with immigrant communities. This report evaluates the challenges and successes of recent trust-building efforts between immigrant communities and local police departments, and the responses of each to new and proposed policies that threaten those efforts. Using the experiences of Muslim, Arab, and South Asian communities, the report offers insights that apply to much broader populations. It draws attention to best practices and policy solutions such as the creation of more effective channels for public dialogue and communication, public education campaigns, officer training and recruiting programs, and forms of cooperation between police and community organizations.
While the U.S. government has poured billions upon billions of dollars into immigration enforcement, the number of undocumented immigrants in the United States has increased dramatically. Rather than reducing undocumented immigration, this enforcement-without-reform strategy has diverted the resources and attention of federal authorities to the pursuit of undocumented immigrants who are drawn here by the labor needs of our own economy.