This week, Congress held hearings to discuss the Department of Homeland Security’s E-Verify program. Senator Chuck Schumer threw a curve ball at the hearings complaining that E-Verify was a “half-hearted and flawed system.” While I don’t agree with this statement, it is refreshing that the Senator and others are beginning to take notice of the missing key to the program’s success: a broad-use identity verification tool.

Despite suggestions otherwise, E-Verify has proven to be a critically important tool for employers to use, free of charge, in an effort to determine an individual’s employment eligibility. The metrics on E-Verify use, accuracy, and speed are strong, and improving all the time. However, E-Verify’s Achilles heel remains its reliance on the accuracy of, and limitations on, information that is input into the system. If an employer is unable to confirm that the identity documents presented belong to the individual who presents them, what value is there to the “employment authorized” message from E-Verify if it is only confirming the authorization of the data entered?

Absent an identity tool tied to E-Verify, employers have been left to serve as document detectives. Senator Schumer’s suggestion for a biometric employment card doesn’t sound all that different than enhanced security goals hoped to be achieved by Real ID. Regrettably this identity solution received a major blow in the past few weeks when the Administration announced that it was retreating from its implementation. The 9/11 Commission came to the same conclusion that employers have known for a long time: Identity documents are only as good as the information they contain. Without an ability to match an individual to the identity on their document, drivers’ licenses and state issued identity cards remain vulnerable to fraudulent use.

Real ID was poised to correct this loophole and provide conclusive matches to drivers’ licenses and their holders. In fact 16 states had indicated that they had been meeting established benchmarks for implementation. Despite this success, the Administration has regrettably decided to retreat from implementing this crucial 9/11 recommendation. If security concerns are not reason enough to forge ahead with a meaningful biometrically based identity card, how will a Schumer proposal for the purposes of ensuring authorized employment see the light of day?

Nevertheless, Senator Schumer has initiated a critical discussion that has taken even greater precedent in a post-9/11 world. Identity verification is an imperative need for both security and employment authorization. It’s my hope that Senator Schumer doesn’t propose to walk away from E-Verify. The system isn’t perfect and needs improvement. But it’s not an “either or” matter between E-Verify and the Senator’s employment authorization card proposal, but a matter of “and.” E-Verify tied with an identity solution not totally unlike the Senator’s proposal just might be what’s needed to make the system work. Why not build on a system already in place that has cost the taxpayers a fair amount to implement already? But before the Senator proposes this solution, he needs to first convince his colleagues not to back peddle on Real ID. Any retreat on Real ID does not bode well for a Schumer employment authorization card.

Julie Myers Wood is the former Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. She is President of Immigration and Customs Solutions.

Julie Myers Wood blogs about a variety of immigration, national security and transnational crime issues. Read More
  • Brittancus


    The injury court case of Luis Jimenez, an illegal alien from Guatemala, who was a patient at the Martin Memorial Medical Center in South Florida, will have far reaching impact, regarding mandated laws. The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (42 U.S.C. § 1395dd, EMTALA) is a United States Act of Congress passed in 1986. Hospital and ambulance services must impart care to anyone needing emergency treatment regardless of citizenship, legal status or ability to pay.

    The only problem with this is that this federal mandated law never pays the full amount to the institution, if any? So the hospital passes it on to other patients, the insurance company, which once again the costs fall on the taxpayer. Whoever this individual was working for at the time of his accident, should be forced to pay part or all hospital services. Jimenez’s lawsuit seeks nearly $1 million to cover the estimated lifetime costs of his care in Guatemala, because the hospital tried to relieve them of the financial burden.

    The hospital spent more than $1.5 million on his care, over three years of treatment for his brain damage. If Washington pushes a Path to Citizenship, we can expect spiraling costs for the 20 plus million of legalized person who is already in our sovereign nation. I myself want an alternative to the corruption and greed, shown by insurance companies, which is a government run agency.

    By enactment Immigration of reform, millions will demand health care, Pensions, retirement and a rush on government benefits. For those who haven’t already cheated the system, will be a major catastrophe for every taxpayer. On being given a green card they can immediately sponsor their family members. Once here, they can immediately place the burden of sick, handicapped and those with mental disorders, in the hands of welfare services.

    WE should then be prepared to receive millions of more illegal aliens, who have absconded from their own country, to take advantage of US taxpayers. All Americans should watch this court case carefully, because the implications are sky high taxes. Clogged health care services, education for every child and section 8 housing, along with every benefit, citizens and permanent residents have no knowledge of; will be the absolute outcome of Obama’s AMNESTY. Get on the phone and tell your politician, you support THE SAVE ACT . Support for the bi-partisan SAVE Act, which will expand E-Verify and protect American jobs! Focuses on the heart of the problem-the jobs that attract illegal aliens. It would phase in a requirement for every employer to use the electronic verification system. NUMBERSUSA, AMERICANPATROL