The CATO Institute has issued a report lambasting the concept of a federally-imposed electronic employment eligibility verification system as ineffective, expensive and intrusive.
The report is arriving as more and more states are joining Arizona in passing laws that require employers to use the federal government’s existing E-Verify program to confirm work authorization and as the federal government is threatening to make its use mandatory nationwide.
The report says this state and federal effort to require use of any such electronic employment eligibility verification (EEV) program is ill-conceived and ill-advised, promising to create more problems than it may potentially solve.
A mandatory national EEV system would have substantial costs yet still fail to prevent illegal immigration. It would deny a sizable percentage of law-abiding American citizens the ability to work legally.
The report predicts such a program will actually result in an increase in identity fraud, document fraud and abuse of desperate foreign nationals seeking a better life in the United States.
Such a system would make working in the United States more difficult, of course, but it would not eliminate the United States’ attraction to immigrants. Some potential illegal immigrants would change their plans, but others would respond quite differently. Some workers and employers would collude to avoid this immigration enforcement system. Work “under the table” would increase and, along with it, other forms of illegality.
The value of committing identity fraud would rise, and more illegal immigrants would commit this crime or deepen the minor frauds they are now involved in. Criminals and criminal rings would use the Social Security number (SSN) data from stolen laptops and hacked databases much more often in identity fraud as a robust black market for Americans’ personal information emerged.
The use of these data to fabricate mock identities would compound the problem for victims in a diabolical way. Seeking to prove their right to simple employment, American workers would have to appeal to bureaucrats who assume they are identity thieves.”
The CATO Institute says EEV constitutes one more excessive, Big Brother intrusion by the government into our privacy and an attack on our civil liberties.
Even if it were free, the country should reject a national ID system. It would cause law-abiding American citizens to lose more of their privacy as government records about them grew and were converted to untold new purposes. “Mission creep” all but guarantees that the federal government would use an EEV system to extend federal regulatory control over Americans’ lives even further.
But, the system is not free. CATO says that creating an accurate EEV system would require a national identification (ID) system costing the taxpayer about $20 billion to create and hundreds of millions more per year to operate.
This figure does not take into account the time that Americans and legal workers will waste gathering paperwork and standing in line at government offices waiting to correct errors.
The current E-Verify system has been maligned as error-prone. A human resources association reports that the social security database, which is the source used by E-Verify, has a 4.1 percent error rate. The group, Human Resource Initiative for a Legal Workforce further explains:
If all U.S. employers were to use the system, as many as six million U.S. citizens and legal residents could be denied employment due to bureaucratic error. The error rate for legal foreign-born workers is estimated to be as high as 10 percent – opening the door to increased discrimination based on national origin.
The federal government has said it will try and improve the system, according to this article in the Indianapolis Star.