Study Slams Mandatory E-Verify Program As Ineffective, Expensive, Intrusive

March 8, 2008

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.


Employers Face Stiffer Fines For Immigration Violations

February 24, 2008

Employers who violate immigration laws will face stiffer fines effective March 27, 2008, announced the U.S. Attorney General’s Office. 

The fines are going up on average 25 percent, which the government says is simply an adjustment for inflation, the last change being in 1999.

Employers may be fined if found to have knowingly employed undocumented works or for other violations, including failing to comply with the requirements relating to employment eligibility verification forms, wrongfully discriminating against job applicants or employees on the basis of nationality or citizenship, and for immigration-related document fraud.

The minimum penalty for knowing employment of an unauthorized alien jumps $100, from $275 to $375. The maximum penalty for a first violation is increasing from $2,200 to $3,200.

The largest hike raises the maximum civil penalty for multiple violations from the current $11,000 to $16,000. These penalties are assessed on a per-person basis; thus, if an employer knowingly employed, or continued to employ, five undocumented workers, he would be subject to five fines.

This increases comes on the heels of ramped up immigration enforcement raids and criminal prosecutions against businesses. 

Business owners object to the new fines, saying they combined with the worksite immigration enforcement campaigns will only increase the likelihood of discrimination against foreign nationals, according to the Dallas Morning News.

States Cracking Down on Unauthorized Employment; Employers Fighting Back

January 29, 2008

Lately it seems the media has been teeming with stories on the backlash in states that have introduced legislation requiring employers to use a maligned federal database to verify a worker’s social security number.

In the past year or so, more and more states are contemplating or have already implemented legislation that compels employers to verify work authorization using the federal electronic verification program, called E-verify.

This week alone media reports on opposition to the forced use of the E-verify system included CaliforniaTexas, Arizona  and Kansas. Employers in Oregon are also rallying against proposed regulations targeting undocumented workers.

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Rumors True: DHS Issuing New I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification Form

November 1, 2007

After initially denying rumors a new I-9 form was on its way, DHS has just informed AILA the new form and employer handbook may arrive as early as the week of Nov. 5.

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Calif. Court Blocks New Social Security “No Match” Rule Pending Trial Judgment

October 18, 2007

A California federal judge issued a preliminary order Oct. 10 that continues to block the U.S. government from enforcing a new rule targeting illegal workers that would punish employers if they do not take action after receiving social security “no match” letters. The ruling extends that prohibition indefinitely until the court issues a final decision in the case against the government.

The preliminary injunction handed down by the United States District Court for the Northern District of California comes as a result of a lawsuit filed by the AFL-CIO and other labor and immigrant rights organizations in August against implementation of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Final Rule entitled “Safe-Harbor Procedures for Employers Who Receive a No-Match Letter.” (AFL-CIO, et al. v. Chertoff, et al. (N.D. Cal. Case No. C 07 4472 CRB))

In the lawsuit, the groups charge that the misguided rule violates the law and workers’ rights, imposes burdensome obligations on employers, and will cause discrimination against workers who are perceived to be immigrants.

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