The federal right-to-work database E-Verify has become a casualty of the government shutdown, leaving some to wonder whether the Obama administration is taking advantage of Washington politics to kill a program unpopular with Democrats on Capitol Hill.
“How convenient is that, to shut this down?” asked Evelyn Miller, a board member with the California Coalition for Immigration Reform. “Homeland Security has been a joke since the beginning. (Director) Janet Napolitano does not want to uphold the law, she wants illegal aliens here.”
E-Verify is a free database that allows employers to check Social Security numbers to verify a person has a legal right to work in the U.S. Since its creation in 1997, liberal critics have blasted the program as a tool to keep undocumented workers from getting jobs. Still, by 2012, federal employees and certain federal contractors were required to use the program, and 20 states had enacted some form of E-Verify requirement.
In 2011, Republicans in the House and Senate introduced bills that would have required all employers to use E-Verify. It failed to pass along party lines.
But when the budget standoff exploded into a shutdown last week, E-Verify was shuttered and some-300 people who work in the Verification Division were sent home on urlough, DHS spokesman Christopher Bentley told Watchdog.
“It’s the whole program (that is furloughed), to look at it as just the website itself is disingenuous,” Bentley said. “It’s not just as simple as flipping a switch on and off.”
He wouldn’t comment on whether the Obama administration was glad to see E-Verify go.
“I won’t address that one way or another,” Bentley said. “I won’t get into a partisan discussion.”
But don’t tell that to Miller or the Washington, D.C.-based think tank Center for Immigration Studies.
“It does need to be constantly updated,” said the center’s Director of Research Steven Camarota. “But in a one-week period can they leave it up? Of course. There is no reason it had to be shut down. The immigration system is still working; it’s not like people are not arriving.”
Camarota stopped short of saying it was intentionally targeted for a shutdown by Obama, but said, “It seems like another example of making things as unnecessarily difficult as possible to blame the Republicans for the shutdown. The administration seems intent on creating as many inconveniences as possible.”