A growing number of Ohio's businesses and organizations are using an employment-eligibility verification program to ensure their workers are U.S. citizens or have proper authorization to work in the country, according to a Dayton Daily News analysis.
About 5,466 employers in the state, including at least 520 in the Miami Valley, now use the federal E-Verify system, which is up 80 percent from just three years ago, according to federal data. E-Verify is an online tool that allows employers to determine whether their new hires are legally permitted to work in the United States by comparing their Social Security numbers and other information against government records.
Program participants and supporters said it is free, simple to use and prevents illegal immigrants from taking jobs away from lawful citizens.
"It has been a very good tool, and it is easy to use," said Laura E. Schmidt, a professional in human resources with Projects Unlimited, a Dayton-based manufacturer of aerospace and defense components that uses E-Verify.
But critics said errors in the government databases utilized by the program can result in serious headaches or even job losses for legally authorized workers. Critics said also the verification program is ineffective because it is easy to circumvent.
Congress in 1996 established the E-Verify program as part of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act. The online program is available at no charge to employers, and it allows businesses and organizations to compare information on workers' I-9 forms to hundreds of millions of immigration, passport and Social Security Administration records, said Daniel Cosgrove, spokesman with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Employers must use E-Verify for new hires, and they are not allowed to use it selectively or to screen job applicants.
About 98.3 percent of employees whose information was entered into E-Verify in fiscal year 2010 were confirmed as authorized to work instantly or within 24 hours, according to immigration services. But in some cases, the Social Security Administration or Department of Homeland Security data will not match the information submitted to employers, and E-Verify will then issue a notice of "Tentative Nonconfirmation." Employees whose information is flagged are given a chance to contest the findings, because sometimes the information contained in the government records are wrong. Errors often occur because of typos during data entry and people forgetting to update their personal information.
But if the issues are not resolved, E-Verify issues a "Final Nonconfirmation" notice, and employers are free to terminate the workers.
E-Verify's popularity is on the rise in Ohio. This year, about 5,466 employers that own about 36,900 worksites in the state used E-Verify, up from 3,023 employers with 20,780 worksites in December of 2009, according to federal data. Ohio employers ran checks on about 448,119 employees in fiscal year 2011, up 140 percent from 186,615 in 2009.
Ohio is home to an estimated 100,000 illegal immigrants, and most illegal immigrants move to this country in search of better economic opportunities.
But E-Verify helps companies and organizations ensure they are employing a legal workforce, and the program is fast, reliable and easy to navigate,
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