E-Verify: A Boon for Lawyers, Bad for Employers

I have written extensively about the threats to Americans’ civil liberties from E-Verify, the employment verification system contained within the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) bill.[i] I have also written a study outlining the costs of E-Verify to the economy—at least $8.5 billion per year.[ii] But the problems from E-Verify go far beyond what can be estimated in a simple study. Regulatory complications will ultimately make the system much more costly than anyone can predict now.

The most recent evidence for this fact comes from a report by Immigration Daily (ILW.com), the largest immigration attorney website in the country. “The reaction of the large law firms is a little different than the conventional wisdom—apparently legalization is not where they see the opportunity,” its editors wrote this Friday. “The smart money is not on legalization as a source of business, it is instead on EVerify as a major source of business for the bar.”[iii]

The ILW lawyers cite the fact that many of the 250 largest law firms in the country, ranked by the National Law Journal (NLJ), are searching for new employment law attorneys. “The NLJ250 firms apparently prefer these employment-based practices to family-based practices since the primary opportunity they see in CIR is EVerify,” the Daily’s editors conclude. “Since vast quantities of employers will have to rush into EVerify… the firms seek to add meaningful capability (not just a lawyer or two) in-house to service their clients post-CIR EVerify needs.”

America’s lawyers recognize that E-Verify will be a boon for them—which means it will be complex and dangerous for businessmen. With penalties up to $25,000 per missed E-Verify check and five years in prison for intentionally hiring an unauthorized worker, this bill will send businesses scampering to their nearest immigration practice for compliance advice. The current USCIS user manual is already over 80 pages long, and that’s under the current simpler system.

E-Verify is the most extensive regulation imaginable, not just affecting every single business in the country, but every single worker as well. As we’ve seen in so many other areas of regulation, this level of intrusion will result in difficulties not yet imaginable to the authors of the bill. It’s not just hype: E-Verify is set to be a boondoggle, and America’s lawyers are preparing to “save us.”

[i] David Bier, “E-Verify National ID System Threatens Americans’ Privacy,” June 18, 2013. http://www.openmarket.org/2013/06/18/e-verify-national-id-system-threatens-americans-privacy/

David Bier, “What Are the National ID Implications of the Senate Immigration Bill?” May 3, 2013. http://www.openmarket.org/2013/05/03/what-are-the-national-id-implications-of-the-senate-immigration-bill/

[ii] David Bier, “E-Verify Mandate Is Costly for Businesses and Workers,” Competitive Enterprise Institute, April 22, 2013. http://cei.org/sites/default/files/David%20Bier%20-%20E-Verify%20Mandate%20Is%20Costly%20for%20Businesses%20and%20Workers.pdf

[iii] Immigration Daily, “Law Firms React to CIR,” June 21, 2013. http://discuss.ilw.com/content.php?2104-Jun-21-Law-Firms-React-To-CIR