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E-verify system comes under scrutiny

Aug 13, 2013 Quinn Thomas

Business owners use pre-employment screening to investigate consumers' credit reports, criminal records and other information that may pertain to a potential worker's performance. The practice has been useful for enterprises that want to hire only the best candidates available. However, some small business owners are expressing frustration about current regulations that require them to use a government operated verification system.

According to The Background Investigator, the problem stems from the use of the federal E-verify platform. The source reported that Daniel VanLoh - a restaurateur from Georgia - has been forced to turn away a number of new employees just days after hiring them because he finds that they are not authorized to work in the United States due their absence in the E-verify database.

Earlier this month, Georgia passed legislation requiring small businesses to use the system, which VanLoh says has forced his recruiting costs to skyrocket. He told the source that his company spends a significant amount of money on recruiting and screen quality candidates. However, if E-verify rejects an applicant, VanLoh has to start from the beginning, completing an entirely new candidate search.

The source stated that the difficulty that a number of Georgia business owners are experiencing regarding making new hires has put a strain on their workers. As a result, many current employees are demanding hire salaries due to the additional work they are required to complete given the shortage of staff members.

Immigration reform
Many business owners in states in which it's mandatory to use E-verify have called on the government to aggressively address immigration reform to make it possible for them to more easily navigate the recruitment landscape.

However, reported that Senate and House members are working to expand mandatory use of E-verify to all American businesses. Potential drafts of legislation would create stiff penalties for any company that knowingly hires an undocumented worker.

If passed without comprehensive immigration reforms that would help undocumented immigrants gain legal status, the required use of E-verify could prove to be a major detriment to the success of American small businesses. However, it's important to note that not all pre-employment systems and procedures are lacking. In fact, many third-party screening companies provide comprehensive background searches that are trusted by a number of enterprises.

Instead of focusing on furthering the use of the flawed platform, lawmakers should be aiming to revamp immigration policies in a manner that benefits America's entrepreneurs. The current system appears to be a barrier for employers' success, which could have negative effects for the national economic outlook. Until more sensible screening and immigration laws are created, Georgia's enterprises and companies in other states that require the use of E-verify will likely suffer.