WASHINGTON (April 18, 2011) – Last week, the House Subcommittee on Social Security held a hearing entitled “Social Security Administration’s Role in Verifying Employment Eligibility.”
The Asian American Center for Advancing Justice expressed deep concern about the negative impact a mandatory nationwide electronic employment verification program, known as E-Verify, would have on the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.
“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.
E-Verify is a web-based system that allows employers to electronically verify a 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, and may incorrectly identify a work-authorized employee as ineligible to work. Errors in the E-Verify program can result from outdated information in government databases. In fiscal year 2009, 22 percent of workers spent more than $50 to correct database errors – which employees were not usually responsible for – and 13 percent spent more than $100.
“The already confusing E-Verify program will be impossible to navigate for the nearly 50 percent of the AAPI community who face language barriers – where citizen and legal resident workers alike will be unduly burdened by constant misidentifications in the system,” said Stewart Kwoh, president and executive director of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center.
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, noted: “We are concerned that E-Verify promotes discrimination against AAPIs, as under-trained employers may assume a worker is undocumented and unduly fire the worker, or employers may use the program to pre-screen potential employees, or simply not hire AAPIs at all.”
“E-Verify would require all employers to spend money on compliance training, employee verification, and infrastructure to comply with E-Verify,” said Tuyet Le, executive director of the Asian American Institute. “These compliance costs will disproportionately affect the more than 1.1 million AAPI-owned small businesses, which may lack the resources to implement the program,” Instead we urge Congress to focus its efforts on providing a comprehensive fix to our broken immigration system.”