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2 Jan, 2010 09:22

Upgrade now! US immigrant registration system outdated

The E-verify Internet-based system, introduced in the US to check employees’ immigration statuses and aimed to take control of a rampantly extending immigrant stream, seems to fail to reflect accurate statistics.

All American companies are required by law to check employees’ work permits, and all arriving workers must be registered. For more than ten years, the Department of Homeland Security has been using a special database of registered newcomers, who are certified to work.

The E-Verify system contains 14 million records of immigrants including biometric data.

”The bigger the company is, the more interest it has to check its workers’ permits,” said Grysel Ybarra, lawyer.

“Why? Big companies are in the spotlight and imagine what scandal it would be if it’s found out that a large meat market employs six hundred illegal workers?”

Employers across the US have free access to the E-verify system, and every year millions use it to check the eligibility of new workers and validity of their social security numbers. More than 175,000 employers are enrolled in the program, with over 8.5 million queries run through the system in the last fiscal year.

However, companies are not obliged to take part in E-Verify and as it turns out, not all employers want to.

”Illegal aliens take jobs that no one else would,” said Enrique Cordenas, business owner. “I’d never work picking fruit and vegetables in a field. I think illegal aliens are vital for the economy of the whole country”.

Official figures show only five per cent of employees in the US do not have a work permit, but many say this statistic may not reflect the truth.

”Federal agencies will never admit that their program doesn’t work,” Ybarra argued. “They need to make it seem like they’re doing an excellent job”.

Experts expect the number of illegal workers in the US to grow over the next few years. The number of companies taking part in E-Verify is also expected to rise.

But with official statistics alone indicating there are 12 million illegal immigrants in America, authorities will be hard pressed to tackle the problem.