OFA Bulletin March/April 2012 : Page 2

OFA Mission Statement To support and advance professional horticulture. OFA – The Association of Horticulture Professionals Forum E-Verify Overview By Craig Regelbrugge 2130 Stella Court Columbus, Ohio 43215-1033 USA 614-487-1117 Fax: 614-487-1216 ofa@ofa.org www.ofa.org OFA Bulletin March/April 2012 NUMBER 932 Editorial Staff Stephen A. Carver, Ph.D. Scott Leyshon Laura Kunkle Editor hat is E-Verify? Does it work? Should it be mandatory for all U.S. employers? Should states be allowed to mandate its use? These are important questions of the day, and all green industry employers should take the time to be informed. This article will attempt to shed light on the answers to some of these pressing questions. But first, the disclaimer: many have strong and even divergent feelings on the issue. As with virtually every aspect of employment and immigration law compliance, there is room for a diversity of opinion. The key is that as we share a solid foundation of facts and understanding regarding what the program is, how it works, scenarios, and implications. W What is E-Verify? E-Verify is an Internet-based system that compares information from an employee’s Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, to data from U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration database records to confirm employment eligibility. Previously known as “basic pilot,” it was originally a voluntary system piloted in several states. Over time, it has been made available to employers across the country. E-Verify is now mandatory for most federal contractors and many subcontractors, and several states have passed laws making the program mandatory for some or all employers. Contributors Bill R. Argo Bridget Behe Thomas Dudek Tom Fernandez Paul R. Fisher Kristin Getter Charlie Hall Jinsheng Huang Allison Jones Paul Pilon Craig Regelbrugge Suzanne Wainwright-Evans Who is Using E-Verify? As of now, roughly 300,000 U.S. employers are enrolled to use E-Verify. While this sounds like a big number, there are at least 30 million employers in the country, so simple math would indicate that somewhere in the neighborhood of one percent of employers are using the system. Users are skewed toward larger businesses; according to the Immigration Policy Center, only 12 percent of E-Verify users fall under the small business definition. Anecdotal evidence suggests that very few green industry employers are enrolled to use the system; most who are report that they are using one of the H2 guest worker programs, and have chosen to use E-Verify primarily as a tool to screen out “domestic” worker referrals from the state workforce agencies who are, in fact, falsely documented aliens. A few others have undergone an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) I-9 audit, and were pressured by ICE to enter into the program. Does E-Verify Work? Many users report that E-Verify is fast and efficient, providing within seconds confirmation of a new hire’s work authorization status. That said, there are two primary problems with the system. The first, and arguably the lesser, is the error rate in the federal databases E-Verify uses. Errors can result from things like data entry mistakes or failure to report a name change after getting married. While the error rate is low, probably at or below three percent, analysts believe that if E-Verify were made mandatory, at least 3 million legally authorized Americans would find they cannot work unless and until they “dance with the federal agencies” to get their records right. The more pernicious problem is that E-Verify routinely fails to detect the use of false documents that bear a legitimate name and number combination. A rather recent independent analysis found that E-Verify wrongly clears unauthorized workers presenting false documents as much as 54 percent of the time. Policymakers eager to have E-Verify mandatory for all seem to ignore this disturbing problem; unless fixed, mandatory E-Verify will encourage wide-scale identity theft to support the manufacture of better fake IDs. Published Bimonthly Copyright © OFA 2012. Permission is hereby given to reprint articles appearing in this OFA Bulletin provided the following reference statement appears with the reprinted article: “Reprinted from the OFA Bulletin, (phone: 614-487-1117) March/April 2012, Number 932.” No endorsement is intended for products mentioned in this OFA Bulletin, nor is criticism meant for products not mentioned. The authors and OFA assume no liability resulting from the use of practices printed in this OFA Bulletin. 2 OFA Bulletin

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