Airports Encouraged to use E-Verify

On December 17, the Transportation Security Administration sent airport operators a memo asking them to recommend airport employers make the following items a security priority in 2008 (

• immediately notifying airport of change in employment status;
• reporting lost or stolen identification or access media and using
such media appropriate1y;
• retrieving and returning such media of persons who no longer
need them;
• conducting substantial identification verification processes;
• maintaining a high level of identification display and challenge; and
• preventing “piggybacking.”

The memo’s focus after this point is a recommendation for all airport employers to participate in the government’s E-Verify program, previously known as the Basic Pilot/Employment Eligibility Verification Program. E-Verify is a free online program run by the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration that lets employers electronically verify the employment eligibility of newly hired employees.

Use of E-Verify is currently voluntary, but Congress is considering a bill that would make it mandatory for all U.S. employers, and Arizona’s Legal Arizona Workers Act, which went into effect last month, requires Arizona employers to use the system. The federal government announced last summer that it would require all new federal contractors to enroll in and use E-Verify. Meanwhile, several organizations have raised their own concerns about the implications of nationwide mandatory use, such as privacy violations, network security and backlog.

Immigration reform is a huge issue in the campaigns for presidential nominations, and Americans are being bombarded with politically motivated messages for and against measures like mandatory use of E-Verify. The security picture is more nuanced than the ads make it sound. While few illegal workers pose a direct security threat to U.S. businesses, the potential does exist for terrorists to enter the country illegally with the intention of gaining access to airports.
According to Dennis Treece, director of corporate security for the Massachusetts Port Authority: “The E-Verify program can provide an increased level of security by verifying the basic credentials upon which employment is based. With identity theft becoming a national epidemic, we need tools to help us verify that people in whom we are putting considerable trust, and granting considerable responsibility and authority, are in fact who they say they are.”

Airport operators and employers should consider the security pros and cons of using E-Verify while it remains a voluntary-use program. They should familiarize themselves with its operation enough to voice their support of or concerns about it to Congress as it considers requiring the program’s use.

Marleah Blades is senior editor for the Security Executive Council, an international professional membership organization for leading senior security executives spanning all industries, both the public and private sectors, and the globe. The Security Executive Council maintains a large and growing list of laws, regulations, standards and guidelines that impact security ( Visit for more information.