USA Today Needs to Check Its Facts: The Priority is the Economy

04/11/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Catherine Singley, Office of Research, Advocacy, and Legislation
National Council of La Raza (NCLR)

Earlier this week, our friends at the Immigration Policy Center (IPC) reacted to this week's USA Today article on construction jobs, undocumented workers, and E-Verify. IPC's blog post examines the dubious Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) numbers quoted by the USA Today article and calls CIS's calculations "fuzzy math." As it relates to E-Verify, the IPC blog author notes, "...numerous reports--from the Congressional Budget Office, the Social Security Administration's Inspector General, and a Department of Homeland Security contractor, among others--indicate that trying to implement E-Verify on a national scale would be a costly mistake that would ensnare U.S. citizens in database errors and wouldn't actually stop undocumented immigrants from getting jobs. Rushing E-Verify into nationwide implementation would simply force unemployed Americans to jump through hoops in order to prove that they are entitled to work in the United States."

Our friends at Media Matters also examined USA Today's allegation that the belief that E-Verify is "riddled with errors that could result in millions of workers being wrongly identified as not authorized for work" has been originated by "business groups and immigrant advocacy groups." Like IPC, Media Matters contends that, in fact, federal government reports have led "business groups and immigrant advocacy groups" to this conclusion. One report that critiques E-Verify was a September 2007 assessment of the E-Verify pilot program commissioned by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The report stated that "the database used for verification is still not sufficiently up to date to meet the IIRIRA requirement for accurate verification, especially for naturalized citizens." A second report by the Government Accountability Office stated that, "About 7 percent of the [employee] queries cannot be immediately confirmed as work authorized by SSA , and about 1 percent cannot be immediately confirmed as work authorized by USCIS because employees' information queried through the system does not match information in SSA or DHS databases."

Given E-Verify's shameful track record of wrongly denying jobs to U.S. citizens, it is unthinkable that groups like CIS would wish this kind of red-tape nightmare upon U.S. workers and businesses at a time when creating jobs is America's number one priority. As of February 2009, the unemployment rate was 7.3% for White workers, 13.4% for Black workers, and 10.9% for Latino workers. While it is impossible to predict who will get the estimated three million new jobs from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act), one thing is certain: The American public can no longer afford to play blame games--this country is ready for tangible results. It is time that everyone got that priority straight.

IIRIRA is the abbreviation for the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996.
SSA is the abbreviation for the Social Security Administration.
USCIS is the abbreviation for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.