By Thomas Ahearn, ESR Staff

Noting that polling shows Americans think immigration laws need reform but Congress has yet to translate national sentiment into action, the leading voice of the American Meat Industry (AMI) – the nation’s oldest and largest meat and poultry trade association – believes the reauthorization and improvement of the online employment verification system E-Verify could be a big step forward for comprehensive immigration reform.

In a guest editorial in the Austin (TX) American-Statesman – “The Importance of Employment Verification” – AMI President and CEO J. Patrick Boyle notes “E-Verify is the only electronic data-based system available to ensure that employers hire only those authorized to work in the United States” and that “like a merchant can swipe a credit card when a purchase is made – and that purchase is either authorized or not – E-Verify allows employers to verify the social security numbers of new employees after they are hired.”

Among the key points that Boyle makes in the commentary concerning the importance of employment verification and E-Verify – an Internet-based system run by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) using government databases – are:

  • E-Verify can be the cornerstone of border control since the system helps prevent undocumented workers from obtaining U.S. jobs, thus lowering the enticement for those workers to sneak into the county or overstay their expired visas.
  • E-Verify can curb possible discrimination against workers by putting the onus on the federal government to either grant or withhold permission for new employees to work after employers send data to E-Verify for employment verification.
  • E-Verify can prevent the “Catch-22” situation U.S. employers face daily under current law – they can be fined if they hire an undocumented worker but also can be subjected to civil rights charges if they investigate an employee too much without cause – by taking the guesswork out of the hiring and offering employers a “safe harbor” from such prosecutions when E-Verify becomes mandatory.
  • E-Verify can help the tens of millions of unemployed Americans and legal residents by ensuring their jobs are not taken by undocumented workers or that certain employers don’t undercut their wages by hiring undocumented workers.

According to Boyle, the AMI recently asked Congress to mandate E-Verify use after urging industry-wide use for a decade. However, E-Verify needs changes including enhancing its capacity to eliminate border fraud, addressing a growing number of state and local laws, and phasing in any mandatory E-Verify system use over several years to allow smaller companies time to adapt.

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 employment verification system, visit