E-verify is a federal government computer database that allows employers to instantly check whether job applicants are in the U.S. legally and are legally eligible to work. So why aren't more employers using it?
A Pew Research Group study obtained by 1200 WOAI news reveals that only one in three Texas employers used E-Verify in 2017 to screen potential new employees, meaning many employers hired people who are not legally entitled to work in the U.S.
Mark Jones, an immigration expert at Rice University, says there are several reasons why E-Verify is a bust among employers.
"If you employ E-Verify you are going to have fewer workers who are employable and you are going to have to pay the workers that you do hire more," he said."And, you are going to have to increase a layer of bureaucracy in your organization to actually carry out this level of verification."
And Jones says that would also require the employer to raise prices for the goods and services they provide. He says that is not a positive choice at a time when e-commerce has made consumers more price conscious than ever before.
Jones says many employers consider E-Verify to be an 'unfunded mandate,' which requires them to perform and pay for a service without receiving any compensation from the government.
"They don't want to hire more people to actually run the E-Verify system, and they don't want to reduce their work force by actually verifying whether an applicant is a system or not."
Jones says with the job market so tight in Texas, and the number of applicants particularly tight in the skilled and semi-skilled jobs which frequently are done by illegal immigrants, like construction trades and agriculture, employers know that if they want to get a job done that they have been contracted to do, they are going to need these workers to do it, and if a skilled welder is standing in front of the boss willing to work, the boss may not want to know that person's immigration status, because if he learns that person is undocumented, he won't be able to hire him and might not be able to complete the project.
So would passing a law making use of E-Verify mandatory for private employers cut down on the number of illegal immigrants entering Texas looking for work?
That proposal was floated just last week by the Texas State Senate, when a committee proposed requiring all contractors on TxDOT approved highway jobs to demonstrate their use of E-Verify.
Jones says there are a handful of states that have made E-Verify mandatory, but the drop in illegal immigrants in the work force in those states has been negligable.
Experts says illegal immigration is driven by the sending, not the receiving nations.
They say the first goal of a person who is dealing with brutal gang violence in Honduras or starvation in Somalia is to get away from those problems, rather than the goal of finding a well paying job in the United States.