The Government's E-Verify Program Could Become Mandatory

Of course, not receiving a confirmation from E-Verify doesn't mean that you're in the country illegally. The employee's information might have been entered wrong, or the government record might not be up to date. With that in mind, the program specifically tells employers to allow an employee to work if the person is contesting the program's results.

Employers are obligated to let employees know if they've failed to receive a confirmation through E-Verify, but an employee has no way of knowing the results of the test independently. Employees do have the option of checking their work eligibility on their own, however. The "Self Check" program allows you to enter your personal information online and verify your work eligibility.

Still, immigrant rights groups see a window for discrimination: an employer may want to fire someone they suspect is in the country without papers. To go a step further, an employer may avoid hiring that person altogether if they fear the person is undocumented.

Emily Tulli, a policy attorney at the National Immigration Law Center, testified at the committee hearing on Wednesday and said that E-Verify shouldn't be instituted until the workforce is fully legalized. Even then, she said the program should come with employee safeguards and a better track record for accuracy.

"Workers who report mistreatment should be treated as whistleblowers," she said in a statement submitted to Congress. "Without significant penalties for employer mistreatment, and strong worker protections, employer misuse flourishes."

This post was updated at 11:38 a.m.

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