Date of Award

Spring 5-18-2012

Author's School

College of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program

Political Science


Frustration over the absence of federal immigration reform has led states to pass their own laws that raise barriers to undocumented immigrant employment. One type of law requires that public and/or private employers use E-Verify, an internet based work authorization verification system run by the Department of Homeland Security, to verify that their employees are eligible to work in the United States. Fifteen states passed mandatory E-Verify laws between 2006 and 2011. Political Science scholars have studied factors that influence federal immigration policy but they have yet to explore the factors that drive state-level E-Verify laws. My study asks: What factors influence a state’s decision to pass mandatory E-Verify legislation? Answering this question will help the political science and the immigration policymaking communities understand why certain states passed mandatory E-Verify laws and predict whether certain states are likely to pass similar laws in the future. I use ordered logistical regression and linear regression to determine the effect that economic conditions, interest group representation, public opinion, and political ideology have on a state’s likelihood of passing E-Verify laws. I find that economic conditions, specifically measured by unemployment rates, and interest group representation, specifically measured by labor union representation, have the largest influence on the type of E-Verify policy a state passes. There is a positive relationship between the unemployment rate and the odds a state will pass E-Verify legislation. There is a negative relationship between the percentage of workers represented by labor unions and the odds a state will pass E-Verify legislation. Therefore, states with high unemployment and low labor union representation should be the most likely to pass mandatory E-Verify laws in the near future.


English (en)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Professor Gary Miller

Advisor/Committee Chair's Department

Political Science Department

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