Spotlight on Immigrant Verification Systems

E-Verify Under Fire for IneffectivenessThe underlying system used to authenticate immigrant status— the Verification Information System (VIS)– came into the spotlight in June with both celebration and criticism. Implemented to determine eligibility in both social programs and well as in work verification, VIS is used in both the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) Program as well as in the E-Verify Program.

Noting the SAVE Program’s tradition of “providing top-notch customer service”, U.S.Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS) celebrated 30 years in service to benefit-granting agencies as well as prospective agencies and benefit-seeking applicants. More than 1,100 agencies are currently registered with SAVE and count for more than 75,000 uses each year. In just the six months since the beginning of the year, SAVE has verified more than 13.5 million cases in fiscal year 2016.

According to the release on the milestone, USCIS is celebrating with a redesigned, more user-friendly site for those agencies working to provide benefits and services for immigrants. USCIS has also added a new History and Milestone page that outlines enhancements to SAVE over the years. Additionally, USCIS Director León Rodríguez is also celebrating the SAVE Program anniversary in a new video on YouTube.

But while VIS is celebrated in its use in the SAVE program, lawmakers in Indiana heard criticism of the technology as applied to the E-Verify Program. E-Verify is the employment authorization program used in the hire of new employees. It’s used by participating employers in the electronic verification of Form I-9 information.

E-Verify goals include:

  • Reduction of unauthorized employment
  • Minimization of verification-related discrimination
  • Provide quick work authorization to employers

But while the goals of E-Verify are noble, the system itself is ineffective, according to published statements of some business leaders in Indiana. The statements, made before Indiana’s state senate, discussed the system and its lack of credibility.

Chris Schafer, the director for the Society for Human Resources Management Director, said the government-run website is cannot authenticate the identity of a potential employee. He pointed to the limitations of using paper documents that can be easily falsified, forged or stolen.

While some business leaders in the state are frustrated with E-Verify, senate lawmakers say they see no immigration reform measures that don’t involve the use of E-Verify.