So… anyone have any thoughts on E-Verify? Evidently so, evidenced by the response to the news that Bob Huber is taking a strong stance on immigration by implementing E-Verify.
E-Verify is a free service offered by the Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration that allows employers to run a check online to confirm that a prospect employee has the legal right to work in the United States. It conducts a check to confirm the employee’s name, social security number and name match up with federal records. It does not serve as a countermeasure or tool to counteract illegal immigration.
By most accounts E-Verify is quick, accurate and cost-free. There is no charge to sign up for the service as an employer. Most checks take seconds to return results. The accuracy of the reporting has improved dramatically during the life of the program with a margin of error being reported as below 5%. Employers who use E-Verify are required to provide an adequate amount of time for employees to dispute the results in the event of a false positive.
How does it fit in here in Simi Valley, at the city level and among Simi Valley businesses? And what will it cost to get it going? Implementing it at the city level should be relatively straight forward according to the Huber Campaign. Bob Huber elaborates as follows:
As with any new policy that’s adopted by a City, there are some nominal costs associated with staff writing and implementing a policy, and some minimal training. This initial use of staff time is well worth preserving local jobs. The E-Verify service itself is free.
Policy and training is certainly manageable at the city level, but what about enforcing the use of E-Verify among Simi Valley businesses? According to Bob Huber, that’s not quite as simple.
For the City of Simi Valley, the winner of a City contract would demonstrate that they are currently and actively enrolled in E-Verify. For the private sector businesses in the City, E-Verify would be handled much like the existing business tax certificates (licenses). It is the obligation of the business to file for a business tax certificate and to pay the correct amount based upon their sales revenue annually. There would be no E-Verify police as there is no business tax police.
Bob Huber’s complete response to both questions will be posted at the end of this article.
Concern was expressed by Bob Huber as well as those who read the news as to why E-Verify hadn’t already been explored by the city. According to Councilmember Barbra Williamson, it had. She confirmed the following via email:
Mike, this information is straight from the City Manager’s office in response to my inquiry on the status of E-Verify.
Staff recommended continuing to monitor the E-Verify program for its potential use at a later time should it be warranted or becomes the standard. It was the belief of city staff that the City’s current contract language already requires contractors to employ only persons that are authorized to work in the United States.
Barbra indicated that the matter was not brought to the Simi Valley residents for their input.
UPDATE: Councilmember Glen Becerra posted the full memo regarding E-Verify on his website.
Mike Judge, candidate for Simi Valley City Council, believes the program is beneficial to the city, focusing on the simple functionality of E-Verify. He said:
I can’t see why anyone would be against this, all it does is verify that the Social Security Number that a potential Employee is using is actually their own number and its easy & free.
It seems like a win all the way around it protects people from being exploited and employers have the piece of mind that they have done what they could to follow the law.
As a resident of Simi Valley, should you despise, dislike or be threatened by E-Verify? I can’t see why you would. But should the system be celebrated as the solution to unauthorized hiring? Probably not. Accuracy reports sway greatly depending on the source and E-Verify still cannot weed out 100% of the identity fraud cases. Further, employers who still WANT to hire unauthorized workers WILL, no matter what.
The I9 document has been the standard requirement for employers for many years. The document serves as proof that all required data has been gathered on an employee and that they are authorized to work. It has never been perfect. The E-Verify program adds an extra layer of verification, tapping employers in to federal databases to conduct a check against the data submitted. That is very compelling.
The E-Verify service is web based. Anyone can claim to be an employer, sign an agreement with E-Verify and begin conducting social security number and birth date checks against anyone if armed with enough data. Fraud or misuse of the system is possible by employers or anyone posing as one. These facts are also compelling.
The bottom line is there’s much to say both for and against the program. As Simi Valley voters, we should discussing these two things:
1 – What problem is this solving for Simi Valley?
2 – How will we know it’s solving this problem?
For me personally, I can’t get overly excited about the proposed ordinance one way or another until I have solid answers to those questions.