WASHINGTON (June 15, 2011) – The Asian American Center for Advancing Justice (Center for Advancing Justice) expresses deep concern about the negative impact a mandatory nationwide electronic employment verification program (E-Verify) would have on the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.
AAJC is urging members of Congress to oppose H.R. 2164, a bill introduced yesterday by Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) saying that it would radically expand the E-Verify and require use by all employers. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) also introduced a bill to make E-Verify mandatory.
E-Verify is a web-based system that allows employers to electronically verify an employee’s work authorization. The program is currently voluntary for most private employers. Recent studies indicate that the E-Verify program is still not reliable, where the program may incorrectly identify a work-authorized employee as ineligible to work.
“Expanding the flawed E-Verify program will prevent millions of American workers from getting jobs and cause many more workers to lose their jobs. The government’s own study shows that E-Verify’s current error rate is 20 times higher for foreign-born workers than U.S.-born workers. This is very troubling for our community because more than 8 million AAPIs are foreign-born,” said Karen K. Narasaki, president and executive director of the Asian American Justice Center.
Errors in the E-Verify program can result from outdated information in government databases. The American Council on International Personnel members report that corrections at SSA usually take in excess of 90 days, and that employees must wait four or more hours per trip, with repeated trips to SSA frequently required to get their records corrected.
“The already confusing E-Verify program will be very difficult to navigate for the nearly 50% of the AAPI community who face language barriers – where citizen and legal resident workers alike must deal with constant misidentifications in the system,” said Stewart Kwoh, president and executive director of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center. “AAPI employers who are limited English proficient will also find it challenging to use this system if it becomes mandatory.”
A recent report by the U.S. General Accountability Office also indicates that USCIS remains limited in its ability to identify and prevent employer misuse of the E-Verify program.
Titi Liu, executive director of the Asian Law Caucus, said: “We are concerned that Rep. Smith’s bill will increase discrimination against AAPIs because it allows employers to prescreen workers, which creates opportunities for employers to discriminate against lawfully present foreign-born workers. Worse, this bill contains almost no due process protections for workers unfairly hurt by the system.”
“E-Verify would require all employers to spend money on compliance training, employee verification, and infrastructure to comply with E-Verify. These compliance costs will disproportionately affect the more than 1.5 million AAPI-owned small businesses, which may lack the resources to implement the program,” said Tuyet Le, executive director of the Asian American Institute. “Instead we urge Congress to focus its efforts on providing a comprehensive fix to our broken immigration system.”