E-Verify has been a hot topic in Utah for years, as lawmakers have gone back and forth on whether they should force local businesses to use the program which, in theory, verifies the immigration and work-eligibility status of potential employees. The 2013 session will be no different, as another legislator is attempting to pass the mandatory requirement.
HB253 – Employment Verification Amendments – by Representative Dixon Pitcher (Republican, Ogden), would make it mandatory for businesses to use the national E-Verify system in order to keep their private business licenses in Utah.
The bill is remarkably similar to the proposal last year by former Representative Stephen Sandstrom, which failed to receive approval. It never uses the word “mandatory,” but it does mandate that any new business seeking to get a license prove that they are using E-Verify, and existing businesses will be unable to renew their licenses unless they declare every two years that they too are using the system.
In all reality, E-Verify or a similar system may be inevitable, but there’s a big reason why we need to hold off for now. The federal E-Verify system relies on existing personal information databases such as the Social Security database, which are well known to be rank with errors and flaws. US citizens who are recently naturalized, or who use more than one last name, are especially susceptible to the database errors, which often don’t immediately recognize their legal status even if they were born and raised in the US. That’s one of many reasons why Congress has refused to mandate its use.
Those same flaws can also cause problems with the more unscrupulous business owners, who are aware that the system is flawed. In an effort to avoid having to deal with the massive amount of paperwork it takes to double-check someone’s legal status through E-Verify, it has been alleged that some employers discriminate against potential Hispanic employees because they believe the odds are against them clearing the flawed system.
Opponents of the E-Verify system argue that no citizen of our country should be forced to ask the government for permission to work, claiming that E-Verify is an unnecessary intrusion by the government into the lives of the people. Proponents counter that mandating its use levels the playing field.
As we stated earlier, E-Verify or a similar program could very well be inevitable some day. But like any business or organization, it’s a bad idea to launch a new program and mandate its use until the bugs are worked out, and E-Verify becomes a reliable system. Erring on the side of caution, and not getting ahead of the technology, is always the advisable course of action for a government body.
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Impact on Average Utahn:
High Impact 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 No Impact
Necessary 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 Unnecessary
Great Bill 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 . -1 . -2 . -3 . -4 . -5 Poor Bill