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As in many other immigration issues, states took the lead in expanding its use, and more than a dozen states have rules requiring at least some businesses to submit workers’ information. Arizona’s version was upheld by the Supreme Court earlier this year.

The Smith bill would supercede those state laws, providing a uniform national framework, but immigration crackdown advocates said it also would take away states’ ability to punish companies that flout the law.

As of Sept. 10, 287,995 employers were registered to use E-Verify, representing 947,445 hiring sites. In fiscal 2011, which began Oct. 1, the system had run 16.2 million queries.

The U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, which runs the program, said accuracy is improving. The latest figures show 3 out of every 1,000 workers receive an initial, incorrect rejection of their work status.