$3.7 Billion for E-Verify

 

President Obama is in desperate need of congressional action on the border crisis. Specifically, he is seeking $3.7 billion in emergency funding to accelerate the care for, and processing of, unaccompanied minors and single mothers with children crossing our southern border illegally from Central America via Mexico. The question that we, as conservatives, as taxpayers, and as Americans should be asking ourselves is this: what should we try to buy with our $3.7 billion? The answer, I think, is breathtakingly clear: we should demand E-Verify.

It is frequently said among our politicians and pundits that our immigration system is “broken.” The claim is especially heard from the left, but even conservatives – who think that the problem is simply that the law is not being enforced – are likely to admit that something is not working correctly. It is a curious fact that little attention seems to be paid to how exactly the immigration system is broken.

By this I don’t even necessarily mean, “how did the immigration system come to be broken?” (though an account of the relevant history could be helpful as well). I merely mean what precisely is not working.

It is in the nature of broken things – like the car in my driveway, for instance – that they are very difficult to fix if you don’t know which part is not functioning properly. By contrast, if you have a clear knowledge of the symptoms, at the very least you tend to waste less time on things that are not entirely germane. Since I know, in the case of my car, that all of the lights except the headlights refuse to turn on, I have not tried to remedy the situation by changing the oil or by looking behind the wheels.

In the immigration problem, as we will see, we are often trying to fix the wrong thing.

The root problem with our immigration system is quite easy to state in detail. The fact that it is not stated more often is clear evidence of the “will to obfuscation” among those with vested interests in keeping the system broken. This is what’s wrong:

The number of illegal aliens in America has been growing since the Reagan amnesty of 1986. At first, these aliens were limited both geographically and, more to the point, by the jobs that they could hold. They necessarily took employment where cash changed hands or where, for other reasons, the authorities were not involved. Over time, certain employers – especially those who could get away with resorting to the black market – found a competitive advantage in hiring illegal aliens.

The “career choice” of illegal aliens (and, at the same time, the geographic range) increased as consequences for failing to obey the law became weaker and weaker. That choice expanded dramatically as illegal aliens began providing fake Social Security cards to obtain employment – despite the fact that the employee’s name and Social Security number did not match.

The Social Security Administration sent out “no-match” letters in these cases and some employers did (and some still do) purge their employee bases of such individuals. These letters, which actually ceased altogether from 2008 until 2011, have been diluted in their legal import to employers by virtue of immigration-related litigation. An interesting discussion on no-match letters can be found here.

At the same time as the legal ramifications for hiring illegal aliens evaporated, the moral consequences of doing so dissolved as well.

First of all, every Man Jack and Woman Jill employer in America who employees illegal aliens knows damn well that they are doing so. Meg Whitman lost her race for governor of California because no one believed that a former eBay CEO who employed a maid in her house for nine years (whom she described as like a member of her family) was so stupid as to not actually know that that employee was here illegally.

So it is with the savvy businessmen across America. The Social Security card that they take does not prove, to them or anyone else, that their employee is legally allowed to work in America. Rather, it merely gives them plausible deniability that they were aware that their employee was illegal.

It is on this sea of plausible deniability that we have floated the illegal alien ark. And the employers, and their dishonest defenders in the Chamber of Commerce, are frankly terrified that the ark might someday sink…that they themselves might yet end up in jail — because they know full well that they are breaking the law and that they are foisting the social and economic costs of their “business practices” onto their neighbors.

Believe me, if you give the average employer a way out — especially one that allows a gradual ratcheting down of his illegal alien worker base — he will grasp at it in a heartbeat.

So the point is this: The 12-20 million illegal aliens in the U.S.; the swamping of our emergency rooms and the invasion of our state parks; the weight on our welfare services and the heart-wrenching unemployment in American ghettos; the countless cases of hit-and-run accidents; the lawlessness that accompanies any criminal underground whose members fear the police more than the drug dealers, rapists and murderers in their midst; the enormously expensive and utterly useless fence; the mad rush of children and pregnant mothers across 1,000 miles of badlands and deserts; and the babies floating in the Rio Grande: they all exist because employers do not have sufficient incentive or morality to proactively determine if the person handing them that Social Security card is legally allowed to work in the United States.

It’s that simple.

But there is an equally simple, technological solution to this problem. It is called E-Verify. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services webpage:

E-Verify is an Internet-based system that allows businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States. E-Verify is fast, free and easy to use – and it’s the best way employers can ensure a legal workforce.

If E-Verify became the law of the land, McDonald’s, Hyatt, Dunkin’ Donuts and dozens of other large companies would simply call in their lawyers and say: “Ok, how do we implement this?” Half of the illegal aliens in America would instantly find themselves unemployable. Gradually, even restaurants, liquor stores, and cleaning services would be purged as well. No other single law would be as devastating to the illegal alien cancer in America.

Of course, it would be ideal if the law were retroactive, but it does not need to be. Over time, the natural turnover of employees will result in illegal aliens going home. And yes, this is nothing more than Mitt Romney’s “self-deportation.” It may take time, but it will work.

Additionally, it will help to stop the flow across the border. Of course, children and mothers who already have a working family member to support them in America will still come. But they will be coming specifically and solely as burdens.

I can prove mathematically that if we do not find a way to send illegal aliens who are here already back to their home countries, then it makes no difference how big a fence we build. Interrupting the illegal work chain is the key to getting illegal aliens to go home.

The whole partisan debate over immigration in Washington has been presented in terms of a “comprehensive” solution to our immigration problem versus the pejoratively-termed “piecemeal” approach, which principally seeks to obtain border security first and foremost. Border security can only be achieved by sending illegal aliens who are already in the country back to their homes. We are at our Rahm Emanuel moment in the immigration fight: the president is now demanding a piecemeal piece of legislation!

I say, let’s give it to him. Give him the money. And attach a clause making E-Verify mandatory for all employers in America.

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What say you, Ricochetti?

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  1. user_280840 Inactive
    user_280840
    @FredCole

    And yeah, usually I don’t talk about “real world problems” because I’m not a utilitarian and I don’t see immigration in utilitarian terms.  I’m not a collectivist.  I see it in terms of individual rights because I’m an individualist.

    But I’ve been arguing here in utilitarian terms because
    1. that’s how the OP approached it
    2. from a utilitarian perspective immigration is awesome and
    3. from every perspective E-Verify is an unmitigated trainwreck nightmare [feces] storm.

    • #121
  2. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Frank Soto:

    Fred Cole:

    If we’re talking about the drain on our society, natives use welfare services at higher rates than immigrants, so…

    …so more strain will put our budget in a better position?

    I believe the free movement of labor would be very beneficial to us if we can remove a lot of regulation, and undo parts of the welfare state. Let’s not put the cart before the horse though.

    I get the feeling that, when it comes to illegal immigration, the cart is already before the horse.

    Sometimes, it doesn’t matter that the government has laws on the books that it no longer bothers to enforce (read “The Trenton Pickle Ordinance”). But often, rigid laws combined with lax enforcement is just asking for trouble, and trouble we’ve gotten.

    It is not surprising when people stop treating a law that’s hardly ever enforced as if it weren’t law. Enforcement is a signal that reminds ordinary people of what’s law and what isn’t.

    We have a major disconnect between the laws on the books and the laws ordinary people have an incentive to live by. No wonder it’s a mess.

    • #122
  3. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Fred Cole:

    And yeah, usually I don’t talk about “real world problems” because I’m not a utilitarian and I don’t see immigration in utilitarian terms. I’m not a collectivist. I see it in terms of individual rights because I’m an individualist.

     Sweet, now define the natural right to freedom of movement across national borders.  What does it stem from?  How do you reconcile it with a natural right to own property (such as land) and therefore trespassing?

    Fred Cole:

    2. from a utilitarian perspective immigration is awesome and

     As previously pointed out, only in a vacuum, not in our current circumstances.

    • #123
  4. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Fred Cole:

     3. from every perspective E-Verify is an unmitigated trainwreck nightmare [feces] storm.

    From every perspective, military procurement is an unmitigated train wreck.  Shall we stop building planes?  

    You’re an anarchist, so that question is not really for you.

    • #124
  5. Mike H Coolidge
    Mike H
    @MikeH

    Frank Soto: Sweet, now define the natural right to freedom of movement across national borders.  What does it stem from?

    It comes generally from the concept that we have a prima facie right to be free of coercion. That is, we generally can assume that people should be free from coercion unless there is a good reason to restrict them, so it’s not an absolute right, but practically all rights can be overwritten in extreme circumstances. Immigration restrictions is a lot of coercion aimed at a lot of people who in the vast majority of cases want to cross the border for innocent reasons.

    • #125
  6. user_280840 Inactive
    user_280840
    @FredCole

    Frank Soto:

    Fred Cole:

    And yeah, usually I don’t talk about “real world problems” because I’m not a utilitarian and I don’t see immigration in utilitarian terms. I’m not a collectivist. I see it in terms of individual rights because I’m an individualist.

    Sweet, now define the natural right to freedom of movement across national borders. What does it stem from? How do you reconcile it with a natural right to own property (such as land) and therefore trespassing?

    Fred Cole:

    2. from a utilitarian perspective immigration is awesome and

    As previously pointed out, only in a vacuum, not in our current circumstances.

    Frank Soto:

    Fred Cole:

    3. from every perspective E-Verify is an unmitigated trainwreck nightmare [feces] storm.

    From every perspective, military procurement is an unmitigated train wreck. Shall we stop building planes?

    That’s just a money thing.  E-Verify is a whole other can of worms.

    • #126
  7. hawk@haakondahl.com Inactive
    hawk@haakondahl.com
    @BallDiamondBall

    Fred Cole:

    If we’re talking about the drain on our society, natives use welfare services at higher rates than immigrants, so…

    So this is kind of the crux of the thing.  To you, it seems (correct me if I’m wrong) there is or should be no difference between citizens (whom you call “natives”, possibly in connection with the argument “nativist”) and non-citizens.  To draw this comparison, wouldn’t you be holding all other things equal?  if not, what would be the point of the comparison?

    This is what I mean when I say that some people believe that Americans have no right to America.  Our Constitution is designed to firmly rely upon a defined citizenry; after all, they did define and specify what that was.  Sowellian conservatism would argue that nations have borders and citizens, and that citizenship is not “just a piece of paper”, it is literally a franchise in the thing.  

    I don’t use this as a term of endearment obviously, but I’m not just slinging words: what you advocate is literally, definitionally progressive; not only is it not conservative, it is explicitly anti-conservative.  Words have meanings.  Conservative is a position.

    • #127
  8. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Mike H:

    It comes generally from the concept that we have a prima facie right to be free of coercion. That is, we generally can assume that people should be free from coercion unless there is a good reason to restrict them, so it’s not an absolute right, but practically all rights can be overwritten in extreme circumstances. Immigration restrictions is a lot of coercion aimed at a lot of people who in the vast majority of cases want to cross the border for innocent reasons.

    We’ve been down this road a few times before, so I don’t expect to break any new ground.  But for the those who have missed these conversations in the past, how does this fit in the hierarchy of rights when compared to property rights?

    I doubt I will receive any opposition on this site to the idea that on your private property you should be able to deny access to anyone you choose. Public lands are not owned by no one, they are owned by the citizens of the country.  To claim others have a naturalright to trespass those lands so that they are free from coercion is to make property rights subservient to this right to be free from coercion.  

    Aside from making nation states nearly impossible to maintain (thus leaving us no means of recognizing and protecting rights), this principle leaves property rights to land toothless.

    I have to conclude that if this right to free movement across borders exists, it would have to be subservient to property rights, rendering it largely toothless instead.

    • #128
  9. hawk@haakondahl.com Inactive
    hawk@haakondahl.com
    @BallDiamondBall

    #128  Besides, even if such a right existed, it would in practice be balanced against other rights, and on what basis?  That’s right, utilitarian.

    Who would do the balancing?  Either courts or men with guns.  I support either approach.

    • #129
  10. Mike H Coolidge
    Mike H
    @MikeH

    Well, government ownership of the land kind of crumbles under enough logical scrutiny because arguments tend to be self referential and circular, whether or not it’s a useful concept.

    • #130
  11. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Mike H:

    Well, government ownership of the land kind of crumbles under enough logical scrutiny because arguments tend to be self referential and circular, whether or not it’s a useful concept.

    There is no disagreement that the government is bad at managing land.  This has no impact on who owns it (The citizens of the U.S.) They may use it as they please, including preventing the free movement across it by foreigners.  

    • #131
  12. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Michael Stopa:

    If I find that a friend or neighbor is employing an illegal alien in their business then I am ashamed of them… To put that third Mercedes in the driveway? They should be ashamed of themselves.

    You have friends and neighbors who have third Mercedeses (Mercedii?) in their driveways?

    Are you likewise ashamed of friends and neighbors who pay waitstaff, carpenters, cleaning ladies, etc, in cash? After all, why shouldn’t paying in cash be viewed as conniving in the underground economy? Cash payments make it so much easier to keep exchanges off the books.

    If not bothering to check the immigration status of employed or contracted labor should be a crime, perhaps paying in cash should be a crime as well.

    • #132
  13. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    At any rate, whatever the merits of E-Verify, I don’t think it’s wrong to be suspicious of its potential costs.

    We already have a lot of laws on the books designed to insert the long nose of government into the employer-employee relationship, and the unintended consequences of those laws have been rather unfortunate, no?

    Another such law, no matter how noble the intent, may well have similar bad consequences.

    • #133
  14. Michael Stopa Contributor
    Michael Stopa
    @MichaelStopa

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake:

    Michael Stopa:

    If I find that a friend or neighbor is employing an illegal alien in their business then I am ashamed of them… To put that third Mercedes in the driveway? They should be ashamed of themselves.

    You have friends and neighbors who have third Mercedeses (Mercedii?) in their driveways?

    Are you likewise ashamed of friends and neighbors who pay waitstaff, carpenters, cleaning ladies, etc, in cash? After all, why shouldn’t paying in cash be viewed as conniving in the underground economy? Cash payments make it so much easier to keep exchanges off the books.

    If not bothering to check the immigration status of employed or contracted labor should be a crime, perhaps paying in cash should be a crime as well.

     Paying in cash is technically illegal but I am not ashamed to associate with someone who does so (with a baby sitter, say) because that behavior does not especially threaten or inconvenience me. I could imagine a society where the underground economy was so burgeoning that the threat of chaos was real in which case (unless I happened to be pulling for chaos) I would oppose anyone who participated in it.

    But I am inconvenienced and endangered by illegal aliens every day. Though I haven’t weighed in on it, I think the whole argument in this thread that illegal aliens are a net contributor to our economy is preposterous. We are importing poverty and we are paying for it. This is an empirical claim but I think it is plainly correct.

    But in any case, given that empirical claim, someone who is breaking the law, endangering me and my children and costing me money for personal profit is despicable. I do not want to associate with such people. I don’t want my children playing with their children. I feel that they are traitors to the rest of us.

    • #134
  15. Michael Stopa Contributor
    Michael Stopa
    @MichaelStopa

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake:

    At any rate, whatever the merits of E-Verify, I don’t think it’s wrong to be suspicious of its potential costs.

    We already have a lot of laws on the books designed to insert the long nose of government into the employer-employee relationship, and the unintended consequences of those laws have been rather unfortunate, no?

    Another such law, no matter how noble the intent, may well have similar bad consequences.

     All I want is for an employer (every employer) to look at the Social Security card, look at the person, and say “you got any other kind of i.d.? birth certificate, passport, green card…anything like that?”

    • #135
  16. Mike H Coolidge
    Mike H
    @MikeH

    Frank Soto:

    Mike H:

    Well, government ownership of the land kind of crumbles under enough logical scrutiny because arguments tend to be self referential and circular, whether or not it’s a useful concept.

    There is no disagreement that the government is bad at managing land. This has no impact on who owns it (The citizens of the U.S.) They may use it as they please, including preventing the free movement across it by foreigners.

     But public land doesn’t approximate public ownership. The government can legally stop everyone from using it at any time for any reason.

    • #136
  17. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Michael Stopa:

    Paying in cash is technically illegal…

    Wait, it is?

    I was aware that paying in cash could be viewed as imprudent or even suspicious, but not that it was actually illegal. Then I’m more of a criminal than I thought.

    What do we even have cash for if you’re not allowed to pay people with it?

    • #137
  18. Tuck Inactive
    Tuck
    @Tuck

    BTW, there’s a fundamental flaw in the OP: Mr. Stopa assumes that E-Verify will solve the problem.  He’s not produced any evidence to support the assumption.

    Technology is not a magic wand.  Especially when wielded by the Feds…

    • #138
  19. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Michael Stopa:

    I could imagine a society where the underground economy was so burgeoning that the threat of chaos was real in which case (unless I happened to be pulling for chaos) I would oppose anyone who participated in it.

    Well, we do have a non-negligible underground economy. Government overreach has made it unfeasible for many perfectly innocent, small-scale businesses to get an honest start in life.

    The Institute for Justice legal clinic specializes in helping these small entrepreneurs navigate the insane bureaucracy to become legal. If you’re interested, you can read some case studies in a PDF located here.

    • #139
  20. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Michael Stopa:

    Though I haven’t weighed in on it, I think the whole argument in this thread that illegal aliens are a net contributor to our economy is preposterous. We are importing poverty and we are paying for it. This is an empirical claim but I think it is plainly correct.

    If it’s plainly correct to you, but not to others, then maybe you  should  weigh in on it. Make the case that illegals are a net drain on our economy. Present your evidence. Perhaps in a new thread.

    • #140
  21. TG Thatcher
    TG
    @TG

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake:

    Michael Stopa:

    Though I haven’t weighed in on it, I think the whole argument in this thread that illegal aliens are a net contributor to our economy is preposterous. We are importing poverty and we are paying for it. This is an empirical claim but I think it is plainly correct.

    If it’s plainly correct to you, but not to others, then maybe you should weigh in on it. Make the case that illegals are a net drain on our economy. Present your evidence. Perhaps in a new thread.

    Yes, please, present your evidence and your most convincing argument;  “negative” doesn’t get an automatic pass any more than “positive” does.  (And “grin” because I want to be sure to emphasize that there’s no animus)

    • #141
  22. Tuck Inactive
    Tuck
    @Tuck

    Michael Stopa: There *is*, by the way, still an ICE hotline.

     Apparently: “Immigration Activist: ‘I Called ICE And Asked Why Aren’t You Deporting Me?’

    “Vargas wouldn’t say what the agency told him but no action was taken.”

    They arrested him and released him just the other day:

    “Mr. Vargas was detained at a Border Patrol checkpoint in the airport of this city in the Rio Grande Valley before he was to board a flight to Houston, on his way to Los Angeles. In a terse statement, Department of Homeland Security officials said they had released Mr. Vargas because he had no prior immigration or criminal record. They said their focus was on deporting immigrants who posed security threats.”

    Vargas had told them he was in the country illegally.

    If they’re not bothering to enforce the law, then asking to spend 3.7 B on a system to check immigration status is a fanciful waste of money.  And you’re punishing the innocent, who must comply with yet another bureaucratic requirement, to boot.

    “As a journalist for The Washington Post, Mr. Vargas shared in a Pulitzer Prize in 2008. In February 2013, he testified before a Senate panel, sitting not far from a federal deportation officer.”

    • #142
  23. Michael Stopa Contributor
    Michael Stopa
    @MichaelStopa

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake:

    Michael Stopa:

    Paying in cash is technically illegal…

    Wait, it is?

    I was aware that paying in cash could be viewed as imprudent or even suspicious, but not that it was actually illegal. Then I’m more of a criminal than I thought.

    What do we even have cash for if you’re not allowed to pay people with it?

     Sorry. Not paying in cash. Paying in cash under the table. Paying in cash and not reporting income to the IRS. Misspoke there.

    • #143
  24. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    I’d love to know if there is a specific number of immigrants that pro-immigration people have in mind that they feel is okay–that is, are they interested in an unlimited-immigration policy, or is there a set number in their mind?  

    I think the answer would relate to whether people see the American economy as having an infinite capacity to expand, a limited capacity to expand, or no capacity to expand.

    As a country, we really need to clarify our objectives in terms of our immigration policies.  

    • #144
  25. hawk@haakondahl.com Inactive
    hawk@haakondahl.com
    @BallDiamondBall

    MarciN:

    I’d love to know if there is a specific number of immigrants that pro-immigration people have in mind that they feel is okay–that is, are they interested in an unlimited-immigration policy, or is there a set number in their mind?

    I think the answer would relate to whether people see the American economy as having an infinite capacity to expand, a limited capacity to expand, or no capacity to expand.

    As a country, we really need to clarify our objectives in terms of our immigration policies.

     I think the problem is not pro-immigration types, who might have a number in mind and would admit that such a number might have meaning, but open borders types, who feel that it is wrong for America to have borders, to exercise any control over them.
    Since we are admonished not to try to solve national problems here, but rather to talk endlessly about them, clarifying our objectives might work against against that end — certainly clarifying peoples’ stances will.  Finally, using a descriptive term such as “open borders types” might earn a column in which you find yourself on another user’s nerves.

    • #145
  26. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Ball Diamond Ball: I think the problem is not pro-immigration types, who might have a number in mind and would admit that such a number might have meaning, but open borders types, who feel that it is wrong for America to have borders, to exercise any control over them.

     You read my mind.  That’s exactly what I’m wondering about.  How serious are they about an open border and unlimited immigration? 

    I got to thinking about this when I was reading Fred Cole’s interesting comments.  

    • #146
  27. Xennady Member
    Xennady
    @

    Michael Stopa: If E-Verify became the law of the land, McDonald’s, Hyatt, Dunkin’ Donuts and dozens of other large companies would simply call in their lawyers and say: “Ok, how do we implement this?”

     I disagree. I think they’d call their lawyers and say: “Ok, how do we get around this?”

    Forgive me if this has already been discussed, but I have no reason to believe large-scale  employers of low-skilled labor will be any more willing to obey e-verify than they are willing to obey the law now.

    They’ll just search for another excuse to ignore it.

    • #147
  28. user_280840 Inactive
    user_280840
    @FredCole

    I needed more space to talk about an immigration number limit.  So I did it here.

    • #148
  29. karenwtn Inactive
    karenwtn
    @karenwtn

    I, as office manager, have used E-Verify for years every time my company hired someone. If you use it on one you have to use it on all which we did. You have to enter an id number , type of id, date of birth and name. E-verify comes back and shows you a picture of the person and asks if that is who has been hired. It drove me crazy when Marco Rubio said comprehensive reform would spend a billion to develop an E-verify system. WE HAVE ONE AND IT WORKS. All you have to do is make it mandatory and impose penalies on those who don’t use or hire anyway. So cheap and primarily effective.

    • #149
  30. Michael Stopa Contributor
    Michael Stopa
    @MichaelStopa

    karenwtn:

    I, as office manager, have used E-Verify for years every time my company hired someone. If you use it on one you have to use it on all which we did. You have to enter an id number , type of id, date of birth and name. E-verify comes back and shows you a picture of the person and asks if that is who has been hired. It drove me crazy when Marco Rubio said comprehensive reform would spend a billion to develop an E-verify system. WE HAVE ONE AND IT WORKS. All you have to do is make it mandatory and impose penalies on those who don’t use or hire anyway. So cheap and primarily effective.

     THANK YOU Karenwtn!!! If we make it mandatory *without* a comprehensive immigration reform bill (just this alone in exchange for Obama’s $3.7 B to screw up the current crisis even more) it could completely decimate the illegal alien enterprise.

    • #150
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