The Impact of E-Verify on Asian American and Pacific Islander Workers, Businesses and Community

The Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community now represents 6 percent of the
population and 18.5 million residents in the United States. Proposals that mandate the use of EVerify, an electronic employment verification system, will hurt AAPI workers and place a major new regulatory burden on AAPI small business owners.

Naturalized citizens and foreign-born workers face significantly higher risk for database errors
• Although steps have been taken to improve E-Verify’s accuracy, tentative
non-confirmations (TNCs) for authorized foreign-born legal workers remain
unacceptably high. Naturalized citizens are at least 30 times more likely than
native-born citizens to be the subject of a database error and legal non-immigrants
are 50 times more likely. Mandatory use of E-Verify will create a new set of
employment challenges for the more than eight million foreign-born AAPI
workers in the country.
• In contrast to records for a U.S. born worker, foreign-born workers relying on
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) records to prove their work
authorization are at a greater risk for TNCs since these records are subject to
ongoing updates and, consequently, recordkeeping delays. Furthermore, recently
naturalized citizens may not be aware they are required to notify the Social
Security Administration (SSA) of their change in citizenship status, which can
result in SSA database errors.
• Record inaccuracies can stem from inconsistencies in entering name information.
These types of errors are intensified when dealing with longer surnames, the use
of multiple surnames and name order associated with foreign names. These
naming conventions can lead to confusion for DHS during data entry and for
potential employers during the employment verification process. In Fiscal Year
2009, 22,512 TNCs resulted from name mismatches.6 Based on estimates from
USCIS and SSA, making E-Verify required for new hires nationwide would
generate about 164,000 name-related TNCs yearly.

Higher database error rates result in adverse employment actions against AAPI workers
• According to the Westat report, “E-Verify contributes to post-hiring discrimination against foreign-born workers since foreign-born workers with employment authorization are more likely to incorrectly receive TNCs.”
• Due to the higher rate of TNCs, foreign-born workers are more likely to encounter adverse actions from their employers. In general, over 66 percent of workers report that employers took adverse actions against them when they received a TNC. These actions included not being permitted to work until the TNC is resolved, delaying training or even reducing pay. In Fiscal Year 2009, 42 percent of workers reported they were not informed when E-Verify issued a TNC, meaning their employer took away their right to contest the TNC.10
• Receipt of an erroneous TNC puts an enormous burden on the worker and can result in loss of wages to challenge the error. The impact of having to fix government database errors is significant. In fact, GAO called it “formidable.” In fiscal year 2009, 22 percent of workers spent more than $50 to correct database errors and 13 percent spent more than $100.12 During the period of March 1, 2009 through April 30, 2010, about 3.1 million visitors waited more than 1 hour
for service, and of those visitors, over 330,000 waited more than 2 hours. Further,
in fiscal year 2009, about 3.3 million visitors left a field office without receiving
• In addition to the time and cost involved in contesting a TNC, many AAPI
workers may have to work around language barriers. According to Stewart
Kwoh, president and executive director of the Asian Pacific American Legal
Center, “The already confusing E-Verify program will be impossible to navigate
for the nearly 50 percent of the AAPI community who face language barriers—
where citizen and legal resident workers alike will be unduly burdened by
constant misidentifications in the system.”

AAPI small business owners will be disproportionately affected by a mandate to use EVerify
• Recent data released from the U.S. Census Bureau indicate, as of 2007, there are
more than 1.4 million AAPI-owned small businesses. They employ 2.8 million
people, and generate $507.6 billion in transactions.
• Mandating the use of E-Verify will hurt AAPI small business owners by adding
another government regulation. Small businesses already bear the largest burden
of federal regulations. As of 2008, small businesses faced an annual regulatory
cost of $10,585 per employee, which is 36 percent higher than the regulatory cost
facing large firms. E-Verify would overwhelmingly add to this burden.
• Mandating the use of E-Verify would also require AAPI small business owners to
use valuable resources on training, and infrastructure. Initial training includes
studying an 82-page user’s manual, completing a 3-hour tutorial, and being
required to pass a mastery test.
• In a survey of employers who currently do not use E-Verify, 25 percent of small employers said that they were not enrolled due to lack of resources, and 10 percent said that they lacked a computer with an Internet connection or they had a slow connection. Nationwide, small businesses are roughly two and a half times as likely as the largest businesses to report insufficient access to high-speed Internet.

For more information about E-Verify, please contact Erin Oshiro at the Asian American
Justice Center (eoshiro@advancingequality.org).