Immigration checks by employers rise

More Colorado employers use national system to verify status of new hires

Colorado employers are increasingly trying to weed out illegal workers. The latest data show the number voluntarily using the national electronic system for verifying immigration status has more than doubled in two years — from 2,065 in May 2007 to 4,690 today. Yet there are 155,000 employers in Colorado, and most get by simply by asking new hires for an ID, keeping a copy and signing a statement saying they checked. As Congress and President Barack Obama move toward immigration reform, the gap in Colorado between employers that use e-verify and those that don’t is replicated nationwide. About 125,700 out of 7 million U.S. employers are signed up. They check about 6 million, or one-tenth, of the nation’s new hires a year. Immigration experts have long argued that a consistent system for checking worker status is essential to prevent illegal immigration. Congress has appropriated $274 million and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has spent $183 million developing e-verify, which lets employers type in a name and Social Security number to find out whether a new hire is eligible for work. No federal law mandates use of the system, and only Arizona has a law requiring its use. The acting head of USCIS, which manages e-verify, touts the system as nearly capable of handling checks by all 7 million employers nationwide to verify the status of 60 million new hires a year.

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