Employers who hire illegal workers, on or off the books, oppose E-Verify.
So does President Joe Biden, who excluded mandatory E-Verify from his amnesty plan presented to Congress on Thursday, last week. Some advocates of workers’ rights thought he might instead strengthen the law.
Even the laxest mandatory E-Verify provision – which would completely exempt current hires from the screening requirement – is not in the legislation.
The White House decision means more fake Social Security numbers and other counterfeit documents will be accepted as proof of citizenship to allow “legal” employment. These can also be used to prove employers were following the law when hiring, just by claiming ignorance of the subterfuge.
It’s not just Biden and the Democrats. E-Verify was a neglected program under President Donald Trump. Even the website has not been fully updated since the end of 2017. This has appeased Trump’s Wall Street and big business interests, especially the giant farm companies, construction industry, and meat and poultry processors.
Under Trump there were some eight million illegal workers in the U.S. labor market, but a mere 11 employers (but no businesses) were prosecuted for violations in 2018. Only three of those employers went to prison.
Using “undocumented” workers “paid under the table” lowers wages in the labor market. Americans cannot compete with those who can work for less, because they pay no federal, state and local income taxes or 7.65% FICA. Employers also cheat the government by avoiding their 7.65% FICA share, as well as unemployment compensation and other levies.
Today, illegal workers face little choice if abused. They can be reported to authorities by their boss if they don’t agree to violate labor laws, including long hours with no overtime pay, no minimum wage, no protection from harassment or sexual abuse.
E-Verify also protects us from terrorism by tracking dangerous individuals. As a division of Homeland Security, the program prevents employment of spies and others in sensitive industries.
There are two sides that have formed an unholy alliance to squash E-Verify or other forms of checking citizenship of workers.
- The business community and elites craving cheap labor, especially in factories, farms, and wealthy households.
- Middle class citizens concerned with the welfare of foreigners here and their opportunities for employment
E-Verify, authorized by the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA), uses a web-based system, through which employers electronically, quickly confirm the employment eligibility of their employees. In the E-Verify process, according to its website, employers create cases based on information taken from an employee’s Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification:
E-Verify then electronically compares that information to records available to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA). The employer usually receives a response within a few seconds either confirming the employee’s employment eligibility or indicating that the employee needs to take further action to complete the case.
Sounds fast and easy. You need a passport now to board a plane, a driver’s license to prove your identity to the dentist, so why not allow a few seconds to demonstrate you are a legal worker?
Biden’s proposed treatment of E-Verify also seems to be skewed to protecting illegal workers – not Americans. One provision guarantees workers are not deported from the U.S., while a worksite enforcement investigation is underway, even if they are not entitled to be employed here.
“Powerful business interests, with tentacles in both political parties, have flexed their considerable muscle in Washington to make sure that use of E-Verify remains voluntary.,” according to Ira Mehlman, Media Director, Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)
Likewise, the ever-growing advocacy network, strongly aligned with Democrats, has similarly worked to prevent E-Verify from becoming a permanent government program, with a mandate that all U.S. employers utilize it, Mehlman explained.
The premise of E-Verify is a simple one: In an age in which credit card companies, banks, and online retailers electronically verify hundreds of millions of transaction every single day, with virtually no error rate, there is no technological reason why employers should not be able to verify the basic personal data provided by a prospective employee against information in the Social Security Administration’s, or other government databases.
There is nothing wrong with E-Verify that can’t be fixed with relative ease. There is everything wrong with a corrupt political system that allows businesses to hire (and often exploit) non-citizens, undermine American workers, and perpetuate a system that forces U.S. taxpayers to subsidize their low-wage workers to the tune of $135 billion a year, he added.