E-Verify: A Bureaucratic, Regulatory Nightmare that will Grow Government & Threaten American Workers

The Legal Workforce Act, HR 2164,  has been introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith (R – TX) which would mandate the use of the E-Verify system for 100% of all employers in the U.S. within two years. Supporters of E-Verify claim that it is the only solution to tackle the hiring of illegal immigrants in the U.S. The E-Verify system is run by the Department of Homeland Security in conjunction with the Social Security Administration. Although there are some conservative groups that have come out in support of mandating E-Verify, I am seeing huge red flags the more I read about this topic.

Mandating all employers in the country to use E-Verify would require millions of Americans to take time off from work and go to a Social Security office each year just to keep their jobs! In 2007, the Social Security Administration itself estimated that if mandated, 3.6 million Americans PER YEAR would be required to prove their eligibility to work. Are you comfortable with the federal government requiring U.S. citizens to ask for permission to earn a living? I’m not! I like the way that Tom DeWeese at the conservative American Policy Center says it: “If government won’t do its job, is that a reason for Americans to surrender their liberty?”

E-Verify has been proven to be error-prone and ineffective thus far. Why would anyone want to require each and every American to be checked against an error-prone database run by the government whose errors will then have seriously detrimental effects on their fellow Americans? In 2009, the E-Verify system underwent a massive audit by Westat, a major research service. They found that 4.1% of the E-Verify system’s initial responses to employment verification were inaccurate; of the 6.2% workers unauthorized to work, 54% were incorrectly approved by E-Verify. A coalition letter written by free-market advocacy groups and public interest organizations stated: “Worse, E-Verify produced false positives for 0.7% of legal authorized workers. If the employment status of the entire U.S. workforce of approximately 200 million were contingent on E-Verify, up to 1.4 million legal American workers would be unable to work due to their having an E-Verify status as tentatively non-confirmed (TNC) for employment.”

Once the E-Verify system files someone as ineligible to work, they have 8 days to visit their Social Security office – which is only open during business hours meaning they need to take time off of work and likely lose income – to prove to the federal government that they should not be deported as an illegal immigrant and that they are eligible to work. The fact that at least 3.6 million American would have to go through this process each year is ludicrous to me!

If passed, HR 2164 inserts the federal government into every decision that every employer makes in the United States when it comes to hiring personnel. This massive expansion of government into our private lives and private industry is going way too far.

And what does all of this do to address illegal immigration? I haven’t read anywhere about a procedure connected to the E-Verify system that reports or investigates or follows some kind of process to remove illegal immigrants with cause. Does anyone else sense a slew of lawsuits on the horizon brought by citizens who are wrongly labeled and pushed out of the eligible category in the E-Verify database – and quite possibly their jobs only to be forced to join the masses of unemployed? Get this – there is no appeals process for an erroneous filing by the E-Verify system! And, to top that off, in cases of discrepancies, it can take anywhere from months up to one year + to clear up the misfiling. While that process is unfolding, the legal worker has no employment and therefore no source of income.

Hoisting this regulatory nightmare onto the shoulders of average Americans and business owners, while massively expanding the size of our federal government, is not the answer to any problem.

More in a later post about my additional concerns with E-Verify including: privacy, fraud and the black market.