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E-Verify: Is Obama happy to see right-to-work database go?

By   /   October 10, 2013  /   1 Comment

Part 41 of 51 in the series Shutdown 2013

By Tori Richards | Watchdog.org

AP photo

DO YOUR OWN BACKGROUND CHECKS: E-Verify has been silenced thanks to the shutdown.

The federal right-to-work database E-Verify has become a casualty of the government shutdown, leaving some to wonder whether the Obama administration is taking advantage of Washington politics to kill a program unpopular with Democrats on Capitol Hill.

“How convenient is that, to shut this down?” asked Evelyn Miller, a board member with the California Coalition for Immigration Reform. “Homeland Security has been a joke since the beginning. (Director) Janet Napolitano does not want to uphold the law, she wants illegal aliens here.”

E-Verify is a free database that allows employers to check Social Security numbers to verify a person has a legal right to work in the U.S. Since its creation in 1997, liberal critics have blasted the program as a tool to keep undocumented workers from getting jobs. Still, by 2012, federal employees and certain federal contractors were required to use the program, and 20 states had enacted some form of E-Verify requirement.

In 2011, Republicans in the House and Senate introduced bills that would have required all employers to use E-Verify. It failed to pass along party lines.

But when the budget standoff exploded into a shutdown last week, E-Verify was shuttered and some-300 people who work in the Verification Division were sent home on

SEE YOU LATER: E-Verify’s site gives some parting instructions.

furlough, DHS spokesman Christopher Bentley told Watchdog.

“It’s the whole program (that is furloughed), to look at it as just the website itself is disingenuous,” Bentley said. “It’s not just as simple as flipping a switch on and off.”

He wouldn’t comment on whether the Obama administration was glad to see E-Verify go.

“I won’t address that one way or another,” Bentley said. “I won’t get into a partisan discussion.”

But don’t tell that to Miller or the Washington, D.C.-based think tank Center for Immigration Studies.

“It does need to be constantly updated,” said the center’s Director of Research Steven Camarota. “But in a one-week period can they leave it up? Of course. There is no reason it had to be shut down. The immigration system is still working; it’s not like people are not arriving.”

Camarota stopped short of saying it was intentionally targeted for a shutdown by Obama, but said, “It seems like another example of making things as unnecessarily difficult as possible to blame the Republicans for the shutdown. The administration seems intent on creating as many inconveniences as possible.”

The AFL-CIO did not respond to a request for comment on the impact the E-Verify shutdown has on various work projects ongoing in the 20 states. The ACLU did not respond to whether their membership was happy the site was not functioning.

Labornotes, a monthly magazine for labor activists, has been opposed to E-Verify from its inception.

“There are errors in the system,” said Labornotes’ editor, Jane Slaughter. “People who do have a legitimate right to work are often caught up in the system and getting threatening letters from their employer, saying, ‘You have to get your affairs in order.’

“We are for people being able to come to this country and get jobs,” Slaughter said. “E-Verify tries to keep people from doing that thing. There are a lot of pressure for employers to use it.”

The conservative think tank Heritage Foundation disputed concerns by organized labor.

“The system is quite accurate — as of two years ago was 99 percent accurate,” said David Inserra, Heritage’s research assistant for national security and cyber security. “If an immigrant came here legally and followed the rules, E-Verify won’t interfere with their ability to work.”

E-Verify requires federal new hires to submit enter their information in the database at least three days before the hire date. This mandate has been waived during the shutdown, according to the E-Verify website. What isn’t clear is the impact it has on various states with their own sets of laws.

“The shutdown doesn’t mean that the database can’t be there (operating),” Camarota said. “So it doesn’t get updated or tech support — that’s different than saying the thing can’t function. This seems like it’s creating a huge backlog when they didn’t have to.”

As for E-Verify itself, the site offered its condolences:

“We apologize for any inconvenience and look forward to serving you once we resume operations.”

Contact Tori Richards at tori@watchdog.org or on twitter @newswriter2

Part of 51 in the series Shutdown 2013
  1. Shutdown plan: Virginia will carry federally funded state workers until Oct. 4
  2. OKC National Memorial and Museum will stay open regardless of federal shutdown
  3. TN rep equates looming government shutdown with hostage crisis
  4. Government shutdown won’t shut down NSA spying
  5. 7 myths about a federal government shutdown
  6. Obamacare goes full-speed ahead as military pay enters uncharted waters
  7. Shutdown sparks New Jersey confusion about Obamacare
  8. Federal shutdown could furlough 57,000 Virginians
  9. ‘Business as usual’ for PA state government as feds prepare for shutdown
  10. Union plans rally as MN braces for federal shutdown
  11. Only government you don’t know about could go away in Illinois
  12. Shutdown? NM seems OK on the state level, but federal workers will feel the pinch
  13. WI congressional delegation soldiers on in Obamacare-shutdown battle
  14. Shutdown? What shutdown? States will carry on despite impasse in Washington
  15. McAuliffe tries to ride shutdown to victory in November
  16. NM delegation on gov’t shutdown: It’s the other side’s fault
  17. Panda Cam goes dark as government shutdown cripples cute
  18. U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin: I’m shutting down, too
  19. Missouri’s Wagner declines congressional pay during shutdown
  20. GIs take first battle of government shutdown
  21. The horror: Shutdown delays pro-Obamacare video contest
  22. Obamacare device tax ‘devastating’ to TN manufacturers
  23. Did The New Republic call for Obama to dissolve Congress?
  24. 4 reasons to cross the Potomac during the shutdown
  25. Are furloughed park employees trying to pick a fight on Facebook?
  26. Shutdown is ‘boom time’ for political fundraising
  27. Sorry Yogi: Reid calls move to open parks a ‘wacky idea’
  28. World War II vets 90, government shutdown 0
  29. Shutdown shouldn’t alter NM oil and gas bottom line
  30. FL tourism industry is magic, shutdown or not
  31. Fed shutdown leaves Americans stranded abroad
  32. Government shutdown brings relief to Main Street
  33. GOP’s Johanns: People mad, feel ‘duped’ into believing government shutdown would stop ObamaCare
  34. Chris Matthews’ weak grasp of government shutdown history
  35. U.S. senator turns total shutdown into partial shutdown
  36. Fed shutdown grounds plan to airdrop possibly harmful substance on TN land
  37. Ohio vets ready to storm World War II Memorial
  38. Some states battling with feds to keep parks, landmarks open during shutdown
  39. Federal tourist blockades called ‘vindictive’ in Virginia
  40. Veterans’ day: Ohio vets conquer World War II Memorial during government shutdown
  41. E-Verify: Is Obama happy to see right-to-work database go?
  42. Two battlefields raise the question: Who maintains Civil War sites?
  43. Contradictions abound in federal shutdown policy
  44. Park Service losing $76 million a day in shutdown
  45. Nebraska federal judge tells Congress to ‘go to hell’
  46. Shutdown renews call to move western forests, parks under state control
  47. How to make NM less vulnerable to federal gov’t shutdowns
  48. Are senators playing selective service in shutdown politics?
  49. Double dipping: Shutdown means double pay for Oregon federal workers
  50. No double dipping for furloughed federal workers in Virginia
  51. Not so fast: Federal workers in Wisconsin must repay unemployment benefits

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Tori Richards is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated reporter who has covered some of the biggest news in the world during her 25 years in the business. She has also won a dozen national and local writing awards for her coverage of the judicial system. Richards has worked for CBS News, Bloomberg, Reuters. Agence-France Presse, the NY Post, the NY Times and The Daily among others. Her work has also appeared on CNN.com, FoxNews.com and US News & World Report. Some of her biggest stories included the cases of OJ Simpson, Michael Jackson, the Aryan Brotherhood and the Night Stalker.

  • Anonymous

    Tori, your article supports the idea that Everify is a program that can be turned on and off like a computer. Please do a little research on Everify. You will find government employees are responsible for more than an “upgrade or tech support.” It’s not just done by an operating system. You should get the facts straight before you publish such an inciting article.