Tennessee employers not using database to check for illegal workers
By: The Associated Press
The Messenger 02.11.08
NASHVILLE (AP) — Many Tennessee employers are not using the federal identity check database known as E-Verify to avoid hiring illegal workers.
Of Tennessee’s 117,903 private employers, 543 have registered to use E-Verify, according to numbers released Jan. 12 by the Department of Homeland Security. That’s up from 214 a year ago.
Some analysts attribute limited participation in the E-Verify program to everything from lack of need, to worries about what business owners would have to do if they discover illegal workers.
Jessica Vaughan, a senior policy analyst with the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for stricter immigration policy and enforcement, says some companies may opt to have a contractor conduct the searches E-Verify provides.
She says it’s also possible some businesses are not concerned illegal workers are applying and that others have no plans to hire.
Another possibility is that some employers “really don’t want the answers it may give. They’ve got illegal workers. If an employer can say they don’t know, they don’t have to act,” Vaughan said.
Yuri Cunza, president of the Nashville Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, believes E-Verify participation is limited because it isn’t mandatory.
“You could compare it to that extra jacket or sweater you carry because you think it may get cold,” Cunza said. “It is a valuable, optional tool. But it has to be used with thought.”
E-Verify does have some flaws: It cannot alert an employer that a Social Security number is already in use in a faraway state, a sign of a possible stolen number.
Also, naturalized citizens are more likely than natural-born citizens to be flagged as possibly ineligible to work.
Other potential triggers include name changes after a marriage or divorce.
Information from: The Tennessean, www.tennessean.com
Department of Homeland Security, E-Verify, illegal workers, Tennessee