The Obamacare exchange websites are open for business, but E-Verify –- the online program that allows employers to check the legality of their employees — is a non-essential victim of the government shutdown.
The government shutdown that began Tuesday has resulted in employee furloughs, closure of government property and federal programs, including E-Verify.
“ALERT: E-Verify is unavailable due to the federal government shutdown,” a notice on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services websites reads.
E-Verify is a free tool available to businesses to comply with the law to determine whether their employees are eligible to work in the United States.
“U.S. law requires companies to employ only individuals who may legally work in the United States — either U.S. citizens, or foreign citizens who have the necessary authorization,” USCIS website explains.
“E-Verify is fast, free and easy to use — and it’s the best way employers can ensure a legal workforce,” it adds.
Center for Immigration Studies executive director Mark Kirkorian speculated that the Obama administration’s decision to shut E-Verify down is “intentional.”
“The administration is deeply hostile to anything that makes life harder for illegal aliens,” Kirkorian wrote at the CIS blog. “E-Verify, even in its current state as a voluntary system, is used to screen some one-third of new hires nationwide, complicating efforts by illegal aliens to get work.
“But E-Verify is an automated system, with almost all replies untouched by human hands,” he added. “The administration could have discontinued just the manual confirmations required in a small percentage of cases, but instead have shut the whole thing down.”
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services spokesman Christopher Bentley explained to The Daily Caller that the E-Verify is the only part of USCIS that is shutdown, as immigrant service fees fund the rest of the agency.
“In the case of E-Verify, the cost of the employees who actually work on the program, the cost of the infrastructure to maintain the database and the web-uplink and all of those things go into the cost of the program,” Bentley said. “That’s the part, the kind of roughly 5 percent of our budget that is appropriated by the federal government and that is specifically funds that program.”
Bentley stressed that the rest of USCIS is open for business.
“If you have a scheduled interview or appointment for biometrics collection or for green card interview or naturalization interview, we show up for that interview. That is taking place as schedule,” he said.
A number of other online sites across the government are down as well and not being updated, including the Agriculture Department’s website and the Census Bureau’s website.
The notice that E-Verify is “unavailable” offers a link to an explanation of just what the visitor will be unable to do during the shutdown.