Immigration Enforcement

DHS Touts Workforce Verification

by Mickey McCarter
Wednesday, 10 September 2008
ICE, USCIS showcase voluntary employee checks

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been improving its employment verification application, which already instantly clears most employees checked against it, by focusing on specific populations who have been experiencing problems with mismatched names and social security numbers in the system, DHS officials said in a press conference Tuesday.

For example, audits of the E-Verify system demonstrate improved rates after DHS addressed problems verifying naturalized US citizens, reported Gerri Ratliff, a deputy associate director at US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

“We want to be able to instantly verify them,” Ratliff said. “As of May, we can do that in most instances as a result of adding the naturalization database information from USCIS databases. We continue to work to analyze pockets of folks who disproportionately we cannot verify but they can then take steps and show they are authorized to work.”

According to an analysis by research firm Westat, automatic verification of an individual’s work authorization status occurs 94.2 percent of the time with E-Verify. Of the remainder, 0.5 percent of those with an initial mismatch resolve it successfully, leaving 5.3 percent as unauthorized workers.

“By the way, 90 percent of mismatches are folks who choose not to contest their mismatch. So really, the system works,” Ratliff declared.

Ratliff discussed the statistics at a roundtable in Arlington, Va., held to highlight the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Mutual Agreement Between Government and Employers (IMAGE) program, an effort to encourage companies to solicit an employee audit through ICE and to promote hiring authorized workers.

ICE Assistant Secretary Julie Myers announced Tuesday that IMAGE had grown to include 46 members, including companies such as General Dynamics, Taser, and Smithfield Foods. IMAGE provides a means for companies to proactively engage ICE to make certain they have a legal workforce.

“With Smithfield, for example, they approached us,” Myers explained. “We had no investigation with them at all; we knew nothing about any problems at their plants. We were able to work with them to ensure that we weren’t going to make any unannounced visits to their facilities. That’s the kind of thing that Smithfield finds is a real benefit. It’s also a benefit for us to have companies come forward so that we can work cooperatively with them to determine whether or not they have problems with their workforce and how to resolve them.”

Companies that have a clean history of hiring only authorized workers can become full members of IMAGE, while companies that have experienced problems can become associate members as a means of working toward a fully legal workforce, Myers added. She reported hearing stories of some companies turning to IMAGE-certified staffing firms to make certain they did not hire illegal immigrants.

All IMAGE companies agree to use E-Verify to authenticate the status of their employees.

Mickey McCarter
About the author:
eNewsletter Editor/Senior Washington Correspondent, is a journalist with more than a decade of experience in reporting on military affairs and information technology.
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September 11, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , ,

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