According to the latest Reason-Rupe poll, few Americans see much reason to oppose eVerify when it is first presented to them as a federal government database that employers use to ensure they hire workers eligible to work in the US. However, once costs to small businesses are introduced, support for eVerify plummets, even among those with the greatest anxiety over immigration.
Fully 79 percent of Americans, including majorities of all political groups, support requiring employers to check with a federal government database that verifies the legal immigration status of any job applicant they consider hiring. They say this even when they are aware that both native-born and foreign-born applicants would be in the database. While 73 percent of Democrats favor eVerify, their opposition is double that of Republicans (22 percent to 10 percent).
When respondents learn their own name would be kept in the database, opposition rises from 17 percent to 28 percent, but support still hovers around two-thirds. However, 58 percent of respondents would oppose eVerify if business owners were required to pay $150 for every worker they are considering hiring. Republicans are especially sensitive to this cost with opposition jumping 53 points from 10 percent to 63 percent. Democratic and Independent opposition also rises from roughly 18 percent to 57 percent.
Even a majority of those who fear immigration’s impact would oppose eVerify if its costs fell upon employers and small business owners. In fact, among the 27 percent of Americans who favor deportation of all unauthorized immigrants, support for eVerify drops from 88 percent to 33 percent once these costs are considered. This means even those less enthusiastic about immigration could be persuaded to oppose eVerify once they learn about the costs. It also suggests that one need not be convinced immigrants benefit the economy and do not steal jobs to oppose eVerify.
Among the 8 in 10 Americans who initially supported eVerify, half changed their minds upon learning that eVerify could cost employers $150 per person. These Americans tend to be more Republican, older, church-going protestants, and more likely to support the tea party movement.
As a benefits-only proposition, Americans support eVerify as a method to check the legal status of workers in the US. However, they do not support shifting the financial burden of border enforcement onto the shoulders of businesses.
Nationwide telephone poll conducted February 21-25 2013 interviewed 1002 adults on both mobile (502) and landline (500) phones, with a margin of error +/- 3.8%. Columns may not add up to 100% due to rounding. Full poll results found here. Full methodology can be found here. A full analysis of the poll’s immigration results can be found here.