Adding biometrics to E-Verify would reduce illegal immigration

Published 21 December 2010

A new white paper argues that adding biometric technology to E-Verify would bolster DHS’s legal employment verification system; the paper author, former senior FBI official, says that better verification of employment credentials would significantly reduce the flow of illegal immigrants because it will make that much harder for illegals to find a job

BIO-key International, Inc. announced that Thomas E. Bush III, a former senior FBI official, has published a whitepaper outlining how biometrics can be cost effectively deployed to reduce illegal employment (Bush’s paper: “Reducing Illegal Employment through the Use of Biometrics”).

Bush, former director, FBI CJIS Division, stated that “So much attention is being focused on how to secure our borders to stop the flow of illegal immigrants from entering our country. If we eliminate the primary reason for illegal immigration — illegal employment — we would not only significantly stop this flow, but also reduce identity theft and create job opportunities for Americans, thus reducing unemployment.”

The responsibility for preventing illegal employment rests largely on employers and success depends on their diligence in checking the documentation of prospective workers. In 2004, to help employers with this task, DHS created the E-Verify system, a real-time, Web-based verification tool run by DHS and the Social Security Administration to determine the authenticity of the personal information and credentials offered by new hires. In most cases, verification occurs almost instantly.

The E-Verify system, though, does not consistently deliver accurate results in identifying individuals illegally seeking employment (see “E-Verify finds only one out of two illegals,” 26 February 2010 HSNW; “How accurate is E-Verify?” 2 March 2010 HSNW; and “How accurate is E-Verify? Cont.,” 22 March 2010 HSNW).

Adding real time biometric identification to the E-Verify program can significantly improve accuracy and reduce identity theft, without the need to issue and manage ID cards which are easily lost, stolen and counterfeited,” added Mike DePasquale, CEO of BIO-key International.

At a Senate subcommittee hearing on 21 July 2010, lawmakers from both parties supported including biometrics into an electronic employment verification system to combat identity fraud. Senator Charles Schumer (D-New York), chairman of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on immigration, said improving employment verification is critical to boosting public confidence about curbing illegal immigration. At the hearing, Schumer outlined criteria for an employment verification system and at the top of the list was the requirement that the system “must authenticate the employee’s identity by using a specific and unique biometric identifier,” such as a fingerprint. Schumer’s focus on biometrics was endorsed by Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) and the ranking Republican on the subcommittee.

Biometric ID is a proven, cost effective technology that can address the illegal employment issue. In order for the employers to have an effective tool to address the illegal employee problem, the E-Verify system must be upgraded with biometrics to improve accuracy and reduce identity theft,” concluded Tom Bush.

Bush currently serves as a strategic advisor for BIO-key International, Inc.