Leadership Journal Archive
October 12, 2007 - January 19, 2008

May 21, 2008

Debunking the “E-Verify Capacity Problem”

Second in a series on E-Verify.

Another myth is that the E-Verify program doesn’t have the capacity to handle the heavy load that would result if many states adopt laws requiring its use.

Critics say that only 60 thousand employers are registered with E-Verify, while there are 6 million employers in the U.S. But this is an example of using an accurate statistic to produce a misleading result. Many of those 6 million employers won’t hire a single worker this year. Others will hire thousands.

What counts is how many individual hires the system can handle. And on that measure, E-Verify is performing well. In fact, it is rapidly becoming a commonplace experience for U.S. workers.

According to the Department of Labor, there were 7.8 million non-farm new hires in the first two months of 2008. In the same period, over a million new hires were checked through E-Verify. On that basis, E-Verify is handling one in eight new hires already. Even more conservative estimates that include agricultural hires show that E-Verify is handling at least 10 percent of all new hires in the U.S. this year. Either way, there’s no reason to think it won’t be able to handle further expansion. Indeed, the number of employers in the system has quadrupled in just the last year (from 16,000 to more than 66,000), and we’ve performed more queries in the last seven months (3.58 million) than we did in all of 2007 FY (3.21 million). Based on a recent load testing, the system has the capacity to handle 240 million queries a year. That’s three to four times the number of people who are usually hired in a given year.

Many businesses are beginning to recognize the value of E-Verify. It helps protect them from incurring penalties for employing illegal immigrants. State legislators are also recognizing the value of the program, encouraging their contractors and licensors to sign up. Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Utah currently have legislation or executive orders that encourage or require the use of E-Verify.[*] We’ve welcomed the states’ confidence in E-Verify, and we’re confident that the program is well-positioned to handle the growth we foresee in future years.

Stewart Baker
Assistant Secretary for Policy

[* update 1: Illinois was mistakenly included in the original post.]
[* update 2: added "encourage"]

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  • This is an archtypical bureaucratic response to a real life problem. No one cares how many queries the system can handle, what's at issue is how well DHS can implement a system that has hardly been tested, audited, or evaluated enough justify a national, mandatory roll-out.

    Cost to employers, cost to employees. This is what matters.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, At May 21, 2008 3:02 PM  

  • GO E-VERIFY! GOooooooo!

    We use it here at work and can truthfully say it's easy and accurate. We have had no problems at all! Thanks!


    By Anonymous Anonymous, At May 22, 2008 3:26 PM  

  • E-verify is only a cost to illegal workers who are not supposed to be here! PERIOD! Citizens have nothing to worry about, in fact, it does them a great service.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At May 22, 2008 3:28 PM  

  • Congress needs to reauthorize the E-Verify program this fall. I would hate to see the department lose this important tool.

    By Anonymous Jeff, At May 23, 2008 10:42 PM  

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