E-Verify: Responding to the Critics

Our recent policy analysis criticizing E-Verify drew a response from NumbersUSA that we did not notice until recently. Most of the NumbersUSA piece is about how well E-Verify polls, which has nothing to do with the system’s failures or how it will harm Americans. NumbersUSA does take an issue with the data set we used for showing that E-Verify is largely ineffective at identifying unauthorized immigrants. As the piece reads:

According to Nowrasteh and Harper, the “the most damning indictment of E-Verify as a tool to force unlawful immigrants out of the labor market” is it’s [sic] susceptibility for identity theft. The authors write that “E-Verify cannot tell the employer, for instance, that the SSN handed to him by a Hispanic job applicant in 2015 in Texas actually belongs to an 11-year old girl who died in Minnesota decades ago.” To be sure, E-Verify was not created to catch identity thieves. And the authors report that “an estimated 54 percent of unauthorized workers submitted to E-Verify were incorrectly found to be work authorized because of rampant document fraud.” That was the finding of a 2009 report that studied statistics from April to June of 2008. The authors present it as if it was a recent discovery applicable to 2015.

The 2009 dataset is older but more reliable and detailed than more recent sets. Also, the NumbersUSA critic acknowledges in his next paragraph that  identity-theft still plagues E-Verify in 2015.  He blasts the Social Security Administration (SSA) for “failing to crack down” on identity thieves and demands further integration with the DHS.

We are glad that NumbersUSA at least shares our concerns over E-Verify’s problematic identity theft issues. However, the problem with E-Verify is economic and won’t be solved by sharing data with DHS. Our immigration laws try to separate willing workers from willing employers where large mutual gains exist. E-Verify is just one of the latest tools to attempt that. Spending more taxpayer dollars to keep these workers and employers apart with ever fancier gadgets like E-Verify won’t work. Liberalizing the law to allow more lawful immigration will. 

Thanks to Scott Platton for his excellent research assistance.