In the middle are many immigration experts and economists. Worksite enforcement, they say, is crucial to controlling illegal immigration. But they also note that America's current immigration system is broken and not meeting the needs of the economy. That's why there's a steady flow of illegal, low-wage workers entering the US. These experts are concerned that imposing E-Verify nationwide now without broad immigration reform would severely damage the economy.
"We have significant sectors of the economy that need large numbers of low-skill workers, yet we don't have legal channels for these immigrants to come in," says Judy Gans, manager of immigration policy at the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy at the University of Arizona in Tucson. "The question is: What are we doing to the economy by imposing worksite enforcement before the legal channels are there to meet the economy's needs?"
E-Verify used to be called the Basic Pilot/Employment Eligibility Verification program. It was created by Congress in 1997 as a voluntary pilot program to give employers an electronic way to verify employees' Social Security numbers. It's now operated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in partnership with the Social Security Administration and is used by almost 70,000 employers nationwide. It's currently voluntary, except in a handful of states like Arizona.