E-Verify is the Internet-based national identification, which the Senate wants to impose on all workers and their employers. The system, as proposed by the White House’s leaked immigration bill, would require the Social Security Administration to maintain an up to date database with personal identification information, including biometric information such as pictures, and force employers to use the system before hiring new workers.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), speaking before the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce today, forcefully rejected the idea. “My plan will not impose a national ID card or mandatory E-Verify, forcing businesses to become policemen,” Sen. Paul said. “We should not be unfair to those who came to our country legally. Nor should we force business owners to become immigration inspectors, making them do the job the federal government has failed to do.”
This is exactly right. As I have pointed out repeatedly over the past several weeks, immigration enforcement is the job of the federal government, not private business. Businesses should resist being treated as the fourth branch of government whenever they can. E-Verify conscripts them to act as immigration agents, inspecting identities under the threat of severe penalties and prison sentences. This is not a free market solution to illegal immigration — it is a threat to the foundation of the free market.
In fact, because E-Verify contains errors and requires a long appeals process, employers will actually be forced to hire unauthorized workers for a long time under the White House plan. At a minimum, employers cannot fire employees until three weeks after they receive an initial notification that the employee’s information fails to match information in the database. Employers cannot take adverse action against the employer without the threat of a lawsuit or civil rights’ penalties.
This bureaucratic conscription is exactly what conservatives rallied against when Obamacare forced employers to provide specific health care plans that included contraception. Employers should not be treated as extensions of the state. If the government wants to enact a particular social program whether immigration restrictions or social welfare services, it should do so. But it should not conscript employers to do so for them. Sen. Paul is exactly correct: E-Verify is certainly not the conservative solution to illegal immigration.
Sen. Paul also correctly identifies the right solution: let individuals who want to work come. “If you wish to work, if you wish to live and work in America, then we will find a place for you,” he said. “We should be proud that so many want to come to America, that it is still seen as the land of opportunity. Let’s make it a land of legal work, not black market jobs.” That’s right — until we allow individuals to work, we will be the land of black market jobs. The free market solution is to eliminate the black market.