Former INS, ICE Heads Agree E-Verify Should Be Mandatory for Employers

By Thomas Ahearn, ESR News Staff Writer

Two former heads of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) appearing together on a National Public Radio (NPR) program agreed that the E-Verify electronic employment eligibility verification system should be mandatory for U.S. employers, according to a transcript of the radio show available on NPR’s website

Appearing on NPR’s Talk Of The Nation radio program with host Neal Conan, Doris Meissner, former INS Commissioner under President Clinton, and Julie Myers Wood, former Assistant Secretary of ICE under President Bush, were discussing the topic of immigration enforcement when the subject of E-Verify — a free, Internet-based system operated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA) that allows employers to check information provided by employees on their I-9 Form electronically against records in DHS and SSA databases — came up.

Responding to a caller saying that employers have been able to identify Social Security numbers of workers for some years, Wood said E-Verify — which was initially called Basic Pilot in Commissioner Meissner’s time — has made substantial progress over the past couple of years and has evolved into a program that over 200,000 employers are using to check whether a name and Social Security number match and also, in the case of foreign nationals, to check the picture that’s used on a particular identification card.

“One of the things that many think would help is to make E-Verify mandatory,” Wood added. “And I think the Obama administration should be commended for pushing forward with a Bush administration rule that requires federal contractors to be on E-Verify, and that is greatly expanding the number of employers that do get on E-Verify.”

When Conan asked former INS commissioner Meissner whether E-Verify should be mandatory, Meissner responded: “A system like E-Verify should be mandatory. Until it is, we won’t have the kind of ability to enforce the law against employers that we need.” Meissner later added: “Congress has to act. It’s got to be legislated to make it mandatory.”

In terms of encouraging employers to join E-Verify, Wood observed that very large companies are mandating for their subcontractors to join E-Verify. “In the case of a very large grocery store, for example, you have tens of thousands of subcontractors that have joined E-Verify just so they don’t lose their big contracts.”

The full transcript of the program is available at:

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) — a national background screening provider and authorized E-Verify Designated Agent — can help employers virtually eliminate errors, improve the accuracy of their reporting, protect jobs for authorized workers, and help maintain a legal workforce. For more information about the E-Verify electronic employment eligibility verification system, visit