immigration

Should the federal government require the use of E-Verify to check the legal status of all hires by private employers?

No

No, opposes

Cory Booker

U.S. senator, New Jersey

“No, it should not. As for committing to any comprehensive reform, I would first want to review all components,” Booker told The Post. “Historically, I think Democrats have been too willing to trade basic human rights and dignity for immigrants in exchange for a ‘grand compromise’ on immigration.”

Candidate positions highlighted
Cory Booker
Booker

Steve Bullock

Governor, Montana

“As Attorney General of Montana, I opposed a measure that would have run legal status checks on every person seeking state jobs or services, and I’d oppose similar action at the federal level,” Bullock told The Post. “Policies like this don’t just increase government bureaucracy, they discourage people from seeking necessary services.”

Candidate positions highlighted
Steve Bullock
Bullock

Bill de Blasio

Mayor, New York City

De Blasio does not support requiring the use of E-Verify to check the legal status of all hires by private employers, he told The Post.

Candidate positions highlighted
Bill de Blasio
de Blasio

Kirsten Gillibrand

U.S. senator, New York

Gillibrand does not support requiring the use of E-Verify to check the legal status of all hires by private employers.

Candidate positions highlighted
Kirsten Gillibrand
Gillibrand

Marianne Williamson

Author

“No. E-Verify is not always accurate,” Williamson told The Post. “It needs to be made more accurate.”

Candidate positions highlighted
Marianne Williamson
Williamson

Andrew Yang

Tech entrepreneur

“E-Verify isn’t good at achieving the goals of enforcing our border laws or protecting American jobs,” Yang told The Post. “Tens of thousands of false positives get in the way of Americans working, and putting a barrier between businesses and the people they want to hire is never good for promoting work. The system has also caused economic harm to states and driven individuals who are here without permission deeper into the shadow economy.”

Candidate positions highlighted
Andrew Yang
Yang

Only as part of a compromise

Only as part of a compromise

Said they would not support this unless it was part of a deal including a path to citizenship

Michael Bennet

U.S. senator, Colorado

Bennet supports E-Verify only as part of a compromise, he told The Post.

Candidate positions highlighted
Michael Bennet
Bennet

Pete Buttigieg

Mayor, South Bend, Ind.

“I support mandatory E-Verify only as part of comprehensive reform that includes a path to citizenship and an overall modernization of our immigration system. Because there are systemic problems with E-Verify today, any expansion of its use should also be conditioned on improving the system,” Buttigieg told The Post in June.

Candidate positions highlighted
Pete Buttigieg
Buttigieg

Julian Castro

Former mayor, San Antonio

“As part of enacting a more sensible and humane immigration system with a pathway to citizenship, we should overhaul employment verification processes to ensure they are cost effective, sensitive to privacy concerns and designed to limit false positives,” Castro told The Post. “We must also ensure our immigration visa system meets the needs of American businesses, which depend on access to labor.” His campaign emphasized the need to improve the existing system before he would consider such a compromise.

Candidate positions highlighted
Julian Castro
Castro

John Hickenlooper (Dropped out)

Former governor, Colorado

Hickenlooper is no longer running for president. “We need to address this issue in comprehensive immigration reform legislation, Hickenlooper told The Post. “It's important we fix our immigration system through a comprehensive approach instead of playing politics with individual proposals.”

Candidate positions highlighted
John Hickenlooper
Hickenlooper

Amy Klobuchar

U.S. senator, Minnesota

Klobuchar does not think the federal government should require the use of E-Verify to check the legal status of all hires by private employers, but would support the E-Verify program as part of a comprehensive reform that includes a path to citizenship for those currently working without documentation, her campaign told The Post.

Candidate positions highlighted
Amy Klobuchar
Klobuchar

Wayne Messam

Mayor, Miramar, Fla.

Messam would support requiring the E-Verify program only as part of a comprehensive reform that includes a path to citizenship for those currently working without documentation, he told The Post.

Candidate positions highlighted
Wayne Messam
Messam

Seth Moulton (Dropped out)

U.S. representative, Massachusetts

Moulton is no longer running for president. “I would support an E-Verify program as part of comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for all those currently working without documentation,” Moulton told The Post. “The database needs to be improved, and we can do that.”

Candidate positions highlighted
Seth Moulton
Moulton

Tim Ryan

U.S. representative, Ohio

Ryan would support requiring E-Verify only after improvements to the accuracy of the program and as part of a comprehensive reform that includes a path to citizenship for those currently working without documentation, his campaign told The Post. “No, I do not support requiring employers to use E-Verify, as mistakes and mismatches within the system disproportionately and negatively impact legal foreign workers,” he said. “The system also imposes unnecessary burdens and potentially problematic liability issues on employers, and can have an outsized negative impact on our agricultural economy. We can and must work toward better solutions that pave a path to citizenship and encourage legal labor within the United States, but E-Verify’s system should be optional and decided on a state-by-state basis, not federally mandated.”

Candidate positions highlighted
Tim Ryan
Ryan

Joe Sestak

Former U.S. representative, Pennsylvania

Sestak would support requiring the E-Verify program only as part of a comprehensive reform that includes a path to citizenship for those currently working without documentation, he told The Post.

Candidate positions highlighted
Joe Sestak
Sestak

Eric Swalwell (Dropped out)

U.S. representative, California

Swalwell is no longer running for president. "We should pass comprehensive immigration reform, which should include a modern electronic verification program,” Swalwell told The Post.

Candidate positions highlighted
Eric Swalwell
Swalwell

Yes, if improved

Yes, if improved

John Delaney

Former U.S. representative, Maryland

“I support an E-Verify system that works,” Delaney told The Post.

Candidate positions highlighted
John Delaney
Delaney

Tulsi Gabbard

U.S. representative, Hawaii

Gabbard told The Post that she supports requiring the use of E-Verify to check the legal status of all hires by private employers, if the system is improved.

Candidate positions highlighted
Tulsi Gabbard
Gabbard

Bernie Sanders

U.S. senator, Vermont

“I believe we must have a smart and fair employment verification system. Any electronic verification system like E-Verify must protect the due process of workers and contain the strongest possible protection against abuse and error,” Sanders told The Post. “Workers must be protected from exploitation, such as the practice of employers turning over unauthorized workers during labor disputes.”

Candidate positions highlighted
Bernie Sanders
Sanders

Unclear/No response

Unclear/No response

Joe Biden

Former vice president

Biden did not provide an answer to this question.

Candidate positions highlighted
Joe Biden
Biden

Kamala D. Harris

U.S. senator, California

Harris did not provide an answer to this question.

Candidate positions highlighted
Kamala Harris
Harris

Jay Inslee (Dropped out)

Governor, Washington state

Inslee is no longer running for president. Inslee did not provide an answer to this question.

Candidate positions highlighted
Jay Inslee
Inslee

Beto O'Rourke

Former U.S. representative, Texas

O'Rourke did not provide an answer to this question.

Candidate positions highlighted
Beto O'Rourke
O'Rourke

Elizabeth Warren

U.S. senator, Massachusetts

Warren did not provide an answer to this question.

Candidate positions highlighted
Elizabeth Warren
Warren

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Background As of last year, 779,722 employers had enrolled in E-Verify, a federal program that checks employee documents that show legal authorization against federal databases to prove their authenticity. The federal government and federal contractors are required under current regulations to use the program. The unsuccessful 2013 immigration reform effort, supported by Democrats, would have made E-Verify mandatory for all employers over a five-year implementation period as part of a process that would have granted legal status to most people living and working in the country without documentation. But liberal activists have opposed implementing a system without a path to citizenship, since it would end employment opportunities for those now in the country.

The Post is sending detailed questionnaires to every Democratic candidate asking for their stances on various issues. See all the issues we’ve asked about so far.

See our other questions on immigration:

How candidate positions were compiled

The Washington Post sent a detailed questionnaire to every Democratic campaign asking whether it supports various changes to U.S. immigration and border security policy. Candidates with similar stances were organized into groups using a combination of those answers, legislative records, action taken in an executive role and other public comments, such as policy discussion on campaign websites, social media posts, interviews, town hall meetings and other news reports. See something we missed? Let us know.

We expect candidates to develop more detailed policy positions throughout the campaign, and this page will update as we learn more about their plans. We also will note if candidates change their position on an issue. At initial publication, this page included major candidates who had announced a run for president or an exploratory committee. The Post will contact additional candidates as they enter the race and include them here.

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