There are few issues more explosive in Washington than immigration. It is next to impossible to get anything positive done on the issue without being dragged into a much larger and divisive debate. That dynamic is about to kill one of the few immigration policy success stories.

E-Verify is a system that allows employers to verify electronically whether their newly hired employees are legally authorized to work in the United States. It is a voluntary program. Through E-Verify, participating employers can check the work eligibility status of new personnel they are hiring through an online service that compares information from an employee’s I-9 form against Social Security Administration (SSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) databases. This service is provided free to employers (though the individual companies must bear the cost of providing the infrastructure and people to enter the data).

An estimated 82,000 employers have enrolled in the program, and some states, such as Arizona, have passed laws requiring all employers to use E-Verify. According to DHS, the number of employers signing up to use the system is growing by about 1,000 companies per week. So far this year, E-Verify has processed over 4 million eligibility checks.

This summer the House re-authorized E-Verify for an additional five years by a vote of 407 – 2. The bill has since stalled in the Senate thanks to an unrelated visa reform amendment added to the bill by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ). America’s visa system needs reform. But there simply is no consensus to pass those reforms now.

Unless the Senate acts, E-Verify will expire November 30 and this useful law enforcement tool will be lost.