What is Everify?

Through Governor Romney, there’s been a lot of mention of Arizona’s E-Verify system. Earlier this year, Romney called this portion of the Arizona SB 1070 law “a model for the nation,” and he restated his comment just last week at the second presidential debate. But what exactly is E-verify and what is its economic impact?

E-Verify is a system that allows employers to submit the I-9 information of job applicants to a federal database. It is through this federal database that employers are able to confirm an applicant’s legality. SB 1070, by law, requires businesses use E-Verify. This has caused employers to be discouraged from hiring. If an employer hires an undocumented worker, there will be severe actions taken against him. This has also discouraged entrepreneurs and investors from opening up new businesses in Arizona.

Many undocumented workers have naturally fled, taking their labor, business, housing demand and capital to another state. A report by the Department of Homeland security earlier this year suggested that the undocumented population in Arizona is at its lowest since the year 2000.

According to a recent report by libertarian think-tank The CATO Institute, E-Verify has hurt Arizona’s economy, particularly in construction and agriculture sectors, which employed a great deal of undocumented workers. The gap has become so huge since the passing of SB 1070, that native-born workers have not been able to fill those positions.

So the question is the following: Are the economic consequences taken into consideration when referring to E-verify as “a model for the nation?”