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Update on E-Verify: processing delays revealed

It’s been a few months since we last discussed E-Verify, the federal program that is supposed to help monitor the employment eligibility of immigrants. As we noted most recently in our September 20 post, there are several key limitations to the effectiveness of the program.

These limitations include the fact that the program is not mandatory for employers. And for employers who do participate, filling out an electronic form does not really get at the authenticity of documents used by immigrants when applying for jobs.

In this post, we will discuss another limitation of E-Verify, namely a lack of speed in processing the information submitted by employers regarding work eligibility of new employees.

The processing delays came to light as a result of the efforts of the Cato Institute, a public policy research and advocacy organization with a libertarian bent. Cato submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, seeking to determine how long it took the relevant federal agencies to resolve verification requests.

Proponents of E-Verify tend to tout its supposed ability to deliver quick and accurate responses. The FOIA request revealed, however, that wait times are often much longer than one might think.

The most recent data available are from 2012. But it shows that when an E-Verify determination is not confirmed and is then contested, it can take a number of days to resolve the issue.

One reason for the lack of rapid response may be the sheer complexity of the federal bureaucratic structure. The Department of Homeland Security handles some E-Verify determinations. But others are handled by the Social Security Administration.

Source: Cato Institute, “Cato FOIA Request Reveals E-Verify Delays Hurt Workers,” Alex Nowrasteh, 1-17-2014

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