E-Verify is a federal government program that allows businesses to check the identities of new hires against federal databases to judge whether they are eligible to legally work in the United States. The goal of the program is to deny illegal immigrants work in the United States. E-Verify has serious problems as it misidentifies a small portion of legal workers as illegal immigrants, imposes a serious regulatory burden on employers and employees, increases employee turnover costs, is expensive, stimulates black market document forging and identity theft, might increase crime, and fails in its primary function of turning off the wage magnet.
Despite all of those problems, the best thing about E-Verify is that many employers do not use it in states where it is mandated and workers have many ways to get around the system, reducing the cost of the mandate. Government data on the number of E-Verify checks that run in each state are sketchy and seem to change with each new FOIA but the most recent one I received from the Department of Homeland Security revealed that my previous work likely overestimated the rates of E-Verify compliance in South Carolina.
South Carolina mandated E-Verify for all employers in 2011 but delayed the start date until January 1, 2012, because (surprise) the system was more complicated than its proponents claimed and the state government did not want to punish every small employer in the state for noncompliance. Despite that, proponents of mandatory E-Verify point to South Carolina as a model system because the state Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation (DLLR) conducts random audits of employers to guarantee that they use the system for all new hires.
South Carolina E-Verify Compliance
Sources: Department of Homeland Security and Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics Survey.