E-Verify Seems Here to Stay: Obama’s Immigration Chief Vouches For Status Verification System

Alejandro Mayorkas was sworn in Aug 12 as USCIS director

Alejandro Mayorkas was sworn in Aug 12 as USCIS director. (Photo: USCIS)

E-Verify, the often-criticized electronic system for checking workers’ immigration status, is apparently here to stay. President Obama’s chief of Citizenship and Immigration Services defended the system this week as the government continues to expand its use.

Alejandro Mayorkas, the director of USCIS, “defended the accuracy” of E-Verify during a talk with reporters who cover immigration, The Washington Times reported. This goes against what many business organizations and pro-immigrant advocates have said: that the system makes many mistakes that can leave legal residents jobless.

Mayorkas also said “the agency is continuing to improve the system and get it ready in case Congress mandates it for all U.S. businesses as part of an eventual immigration overhaul,” the Times Stephen Dinan wrote.

Just last week, the administration made it mandatory for federal contractors to use the system to check their workers’ status.

Mayorkas’ statement comes as the Obama administration apparently is attempting to advance immigration reform without alienating those who favor tougher restrictions on unauthorized immigration. E-Verify is a key piece of this strategy, along with other Bush-era enforcement measures that the Obama White House has embraced. This tougher-than-expected approach has irked many in the pro-immigration camp, who don’t see an equal zeal for advancing a reform bill or in making the immigrant detention system more humane.

Even as his agency works to expand it, Mayorkas warned that Congress must renew E-Verify, Chris Strohm reported on CongressDaily. The program, last extended in March, expires at the end of September, unless Congress votes to reauthorize it.

“E-Verify is a tool to ensure a legal workforce. It assists employers in abiding by the law and it also protects the workforce,” Mayorkas told Strohm. “If E-Verify is not renewed, in my opinion we will need a different vehicle to accomplish those very fundamental objectives.”

Mayorkas is an immigrant himself: he was born in Cuba and grew up in the U.S. He was the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California and also practiced law as a partner in a private firm.

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