February 27, 2009 1:38PM

The Washington Times and Debunked Statistics

Yesterday, the Washington Times editorialized in favor of E‐​Verify, the inchoate government background check system for all American workers, saying, “[T]he system is 99.5 percent accurate, according to DHS, and it permits employers to verify work eligibility in minimal time (10 minutes or less) and at minimal cost ($419 per year for a federal contractor of 10 employees).”

Don’t be so sure. The DHS mantra of 99.5 percent accuracy was debunked long ago. The government doesn’t actually know the status of the 5.3% of workers that the system bounces out, an issue the Christian Science Monitor explored last summer.

I examined the numbers in detail here, also last summer. The 0.5% error rate that DHS acknowledges is the known error rate. Others bounced out of the system DHS assumes to be illegal aliens. This is almost certainly wrong, and the program is denying legal workers the ability to earn a living, as the Christian Science Monitor reported.

But in an op‐​ed published in the Washington Times last fall, lobbyist Janice Kephart argued the DHS line, as carelessly as one can be with statistics: “[T]he numbers rejected by E‐​Verify as not authorized to work closely parallels the estimated percentage of illegal aliens in the work force, about 5 percent.” Right, the numbers are close so the program is working. Nevermind that the livelihoods of American citizens and legal workers are in the balance.

Earlier this month, the Times printed Rep. Lamar Smith’s plea for E‐​Verify, which touted these (well, similar) discredited statistics.

It’s time for the Washington Times to stop shilling for the Department of Homeland Security and the anti‐​immigrant lobby by printing and reprinting discredited statistics about E‐​Verify.