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E-Verify Use on the Rise, But Some Businesses Frustrated

Nashville Public Radio (01/03/12) George, Bradley

An increasing number of Tennessee businesses are using E-Verify, the federal online database that checks if someone is in the U.S. legally. In 2007, about 400 Tennessee businesses used it, while today, more than 4,000 are signed up. Increased auditing of employment records by the federal government is one reason for the increase, as is the fact that states surrounding Tennessee have passed laws requiring employers to check their workers’ immigration status.

Jeff Bates of TA Staffing says his firm has been using E-Verify since it started, and calls it a selling point when he is recruiting businesses to hire his temporary workers. “You know, if 10 people are walking in the door and applying each day and they’re not eligible for employment in the U.S.,” says Bates, “then why are they wasting their time with those 10 candidates?”

Out of every 500 names he runs through E-Verify, Bates says only one will come back as being in the country illegally. E-Verify use is still optional in Tennessee, but state legislators will push next year to make its use mandatory. The Tennessee chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business says reviews are mixed, with some business owners liking it, while others find it too time consuming. The group also notes it can be a challenge for businesses in rural areas.