With unemployment over 9% and 8 million illegal aliens in the workforce, no politician can even say the word "jobs" with a straight face unless they deal with the illegal immigration problem. The best tool to fight illegals: E-Verify.
Currently, employees need to file an I-9 form for every employee, providing documents to ensure both their identity and citizenship or work authorization. The problem, as the Chamber of Commerce and friends repeatedly point out, is that employers are not experts in examining the documents. They can be legitimately be fooled by fake IDs, or in other cases willfully fooled then plead ignorance when the worker turns out to be illegal. To make matters worse, there are various anti-discrimination laws lying in wait to trap employers who dare scrutinize potential employees from various legally privileged groups (i.e. minorities) too closely.
But E-Verify solves all these problems.
Established as the Basic Pilot Program in 1997, E-Verify is a program that compares the Social Security Numbers of citizens or alien registration numbers of legal immigrants with the databases of the Social Security Administration and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services [USCIS] respectively.
This makes it impossible for employers to be wrongfully accused of hiring an illegal alien if they use E-Verify, while also making it nearly impossible for illegal aliens with fake documents to get American jobs.
Of course, the business wing of the Open Borders lobby positively wants to hire illegal labor, because it's cheap. E-Verify makes that difficult. But because the business lobby can't admit its motive straight out, it has come up with various specious tangential objections:
E-Verify Encourages Racial Profiling: Marcy Westerling of the Rural Organizing Project called a proposed E-Verify measure in Oregon"racial profiling, pure and simple." On Wednesday, theProvidence Journal reported on a proposed measure to eliminate any mandated use of E-Verify, noting, "critics say pre-employment screening has been used illegally as a racial-profiling tool." Bill making E-Verify voluntary gets mixed reaction, By Karen Lee Ziner, June 8, 2011. This is without a doubt the most frivolous objection. E-Verify eliminates any possibility for racial profiling, because it is required for everyone.
E-Verify Empowers Big Brother: This meme is gaining traction among some civil libertarians on the Right who might otherwise support patriotic immigration reform. The real culprit behind this objection (alas): Ron Paul, who voted in 2005 to mandate E-Verify for all employers, but by 2008 was one of just two congressmen to object to extending the program even as a voluntary measure. Writing at Paul's Campaign for Liberty website, Tom DeWeese argues that E-Verify "means that every baby born here will basically be stamped, registered and numbered to live in our society." [E-Verify and the Emerging Surveillance State, March 16, 2009]
But even if we are to accept DeWeese's hyperbolic language, the fact is that we all already need to be "stamped, registered, and numbered". We must give our Social Security number to get a driver's license or credit card, open a bank account, and to apply to college. For that matter, you already need to give your Social Security number for a job. E-Verify simply makes it harder to make one up. E-Verify does not create any new databases of personal information, it simply accesses those that already exist and are accessed all the time.
Libertarians are entitled to oppose the amount of private information we must give to the government, but they are being dishonest when they claim that E-Verify increases that burden.
It is important to note that these 0.3% of legal workers who were initially were flagged as unauthorized did not lose their jobs. In fact,E-Verify opponents cannot point to a single employee who was wrongfully denied a job or terminated because of E-Verify. A small number had to go through some red tape to prove their status, and were allowed to work as it was sorted out. As the system improves, this minor inconvenience will become less and less common.
Over the last few years, E-Verify has become more and more popular. In 2007, Arizona mandated it for all employers, and the Supreme Court recently upheld the law. More states are following suit. George Bush signed an executive order at the end of his presidency to require E-Verify for federal contractors and Barack Obama reluctantly reauthorized it.
For the last three Congressional Sessions Democratic CongressmanHeath Shuler (D-NC) introduced the SAVE Act which would mandate the bill nationwide with bipartisansupport. Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) is expected to introduce a national E-Verify bill this week.
The Open Borders lobby seems to be resigned to the fact that national E-Verify will pass. After the Supreme Court upheld Arizona's employer law, Tamar Jacoby of the business Open Borders group ImmigrationWorks said wrote that the decision "increases the already good odds that Smith's bill will move easily through Congress. This is not necessarily a bad thing. ImmigrationWorks supports a workable employment verification system" [VDARE.com Note: Ha!]
However, Jacoby says the Business Lobby's job is to
"make sure that whatever E-Verify bill moves in Congress is workable for business. The system must be phased in gradually. It must be timely, accurate and efficient. Employers who use it and use it properly must be held harmless for failures of the system that result in unauthorized hiring or problems for American workers. And there needs to be one uniform, national verification system. A patchwork of overlapping and contradictory federal, state and local law—and today's ruling can only encourage that—is not only bad for business. It's also a drag on the nation's economic recovery. [Re: US Supreme Court ruling on Legal Arizona Workers Act, Immigration Works, ImmigrationWorksUSA.com, By Tamar Jacoby, May 26, 2011 (pdf)]
This points to a looming danger: If Jacoby gets her way, a National E-Verify bill could actually be counterproductive. States' Rights issue aside, the fact of the matter is that it will be up to the President to enforce any national immigration bill that gets passed. Given the failure of every recent president to enforce already-existing employer sanction laws, we cannot be sure that will happen.
Additionally, the penalties against employers for not using E-Verify in a national could very well be much weaker than the high standard set by Arizona's law (which takes away business licenses).
A National E-Verify that pre-empts state enforcement and is not enforced would be much worse than having more and more states pass tough E-Verify bills that they will enforce.
Moreover, making any concessions to the business lobby is unnecessary. According to aRasmussen Poll from late May, 82% of all voters support mandating E-Verify for all hires, with only 12% opposing the measure. As Jacoby herself admits, this is going to pass whether the business lobby likes it or not.
Immigration patriots need to stand strong and pass a National E-Verify bill that contains serious enforcement mechanisms against employers—and which does not undercut the heroic state-level efforts of leaders like Russell Pearce and Lou Barletta.
Anything less would make a National E-Verify bill a poisoned victory.
"Washington Watcher" [email him] is an anonymous source Inside The Beltway.