Continued from page 1

Under federal law, all federal agencies and contractors, and all congressional offices, are supposed to use the database.

NumbersUSA wants all businesses to use the system, arguing that it would push out illegal workers and leave those jobs for citizens and legal immigrants.

Mr. Obama’s administration has said he wants E-Verify to be made mandatory, but only as part of an overall legalization of the 11 million illegal immigrants already in the country.

Meanwhile, three of the four Republican presidential candidates have called for E-Verify to be made mandatory as part of their security-first approach. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas is the only one who has rejected the idea, arguing that it would turn businesses into immigration police forces.

Mr. Beck said Republicans should see the issue as a winner, not a political liability. He said Democrats already have enough ammunition to attack Republicans for their stance on cracking down on illegal immigration, and there is little left for the GOP to lose by pushing for E-Verify.

A Washington Times/JZ Analytics Poll released Monday found that Republican primary voters were more than willing to accept the political price for a get-tough approach.

By nearly 4-to-1, 68 percent to 18 percent, likely voters said the GOP should pursue stricter enforcement even if it would cost Republicans the support of Hispanics. That was true for self-identified Republicans and for independents who planned to vote during the GOP primaries.

Opponents say the system is too prone to error, though the Obama administration says it has improved dramatically over the past five years.

Groups that have pressured lawmakers against E-Verify include the National Small Business Association, which sent a letter to House members last year calling the system broken. The association argued that the penalty for failing to use the system — up to 10 years in prison per offense — “is as severe as the punishment for second-degree murder in many states.”