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The 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act made it illegal for employers to knowingly hire unauthorized workers. As part of the effort to ensure a legal workforce, there is an online federal system, known as E-Verify, that enables employers to digitally check eligibility documents against federal records. Federal government agencies and contractors are required to use E-Verify; private sector firms are not required to use the system. The Dallas Fed reviewed employment data from seven states with E-Verify requirements over a range of three to eight years after verification requirements were implemented and compared the data with projections for those states. The results were mixed:

  • Alabama's population of likely unauthorized immigrants was 10 percent below projections, and its number of likely unauthorized immigrant workers was 57 percent below projections.
  • Arizona's population of likely unauthorized immigrants and of likely unauthorized immigrant workers were 28 percent and 33 percent below projections, respectively.
  • Mississippi's population of likely unauthorized immigrants and of likely unauthorized workers were 70 percent and 83 percent below projections, respectively.
  • North Carolina and South Carolina did not experience statistically significant changes in their likely unauthorized immigrant population or immigrant employment projections.
  • Fewer likely unauthorized immigrants were working in Georgia, but that had no significant impact on the likely unauthorized population.

Read the report.