E-Verify Makes Working for a Living a Privilege Granted by the Government


U.S. Government

What could be more American than going to the feds, hat in hand, for permission to take a job? The E-Verify system, run by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, is intended to check the legal eligibility of job applicants to work in the United States. It compares I-9 forms that applicants fill out with records maintained by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration, and then delivers a thumbs-up or thumbs-down to their aspirations to earn an above-board paycheck. Mandatory for hires by the federal government, federal contractors and by all employers in several states, E-Verify is well on its way to becoming a national requirement. It's also, as the American Civil Liberties Union points out, a big step toward creating a "permission society" in which the fundamental business of putting food on the table is a privilege to be granted or revoked by the government.

In a white paper detailing ten important objections (PDF)to E-Verify, the ACLU states:

E-Verify turns the relationship between the government and the people upside-down. In order to stop the tiny percentage of those starting jobs in the United States each year who are unauthorized workers, E-Verify would force everyone in the nation to obtain affirmative permission from the government before performing work and earning money.

The other objections are also troubling, but they all follow-on from this one. The ACLU outlines the privacy and security dangers inherent in compiling sensitive information, including identifying data and employment history, in one database. Those risks already exist with existig government databases, but further centralization "would be a goldmine for intelligence agencies, law enforcement, licensing boards, and anyone who wanted to use this vast trove of detailed information for other purposes."

Note that IRS agents and police officers have already been caught abusing databases for personal reasons as well as criminal purposes. There's no reason to think the E-Verify system will be immune.

One potential official abuse pointed out by the ACLU is the expansion of E-Verify "into a comprehensive national identity system that would be used to track and control Americans in ways that have never been done before." We're already well on the way there with Social Security numbers. The E-Verify system could well formalize the requirementf for a national ID — especially now that drivers licenses are included in the database, paving the way for their de facto status as national ID cards.

The ACLU also cautions that employers' commonly violate E-Verify rules by restricting new hires' training and work assignments until final confirmation of their employability comes through. But that makes unfortunate sense, considering the costs involved in committing to new workers — investments that could be lost if the system ultimately kicks back a thumbs-down.

And let's not forget that we're talking about a vast database maintained by the government, an institution motivated more by inertia and incompetence than malevolence (although there's plenty of that, too). How many people will be rendered unemployable because the database is rife with shitty information that is difficult or impossible to correct. Says the ACLU:

Citizenship and Immigration Services report s that in fiscal year 2012, about 1 of every 400 cases submitted to E-Verify resulted in a TNC determination that was subsequently reversed after appeal by the worker. We have seen what many of those people likely go through to get those errors corrected. And while 1 in 400 may not sound high at first blush, in a nation of more than 300 million people and 154 million workers, that would be about 400,000 people improperly deprived of the right to make a living.

There's a lot to dislike about the E-Verify system. And it all starts with a requirement that you get the government's permission to work.

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  1. Not to bust your chops too hard 2chilli, but the institution of the federal income tax effectively made it a privilege to work in this country a looooong time ago.

    1. True. But failure to pay income tax would do nothing to help pack the country with 3rd world immigrants, so why would he cry about that?

      1. Maybe because you are a moron?

        I’m pretty sure Tucille isn’t a big fan of federal income tax either.

      2. Derp de derp da tiddly terp.

        1. I knew this post was American bait.

    2. That’s not even close to the same problem. Screw up the income tax and you owe money and maybe go to jail if you are really obnoxious.

      Screw up eVerify and you can’t even get a job until the lightning-fast federal bureaucracy grinds its wheels and grants you an audience and maybe, sometime, eventually, corrects its records.

      1. So it basically makes it a super duper privilege?

    3. “Not to bust your chops too hard 2chilli, but the institution of the federal income tax effectively made it a privilege to work in this country a looooong time ago.”


      Can you hire someone legally without a SSN?

      1. There are other tax ID numbers that can be used. But it is still a government issued number, so works out to about the same thing.

        1. But they aren’t subject to change the way eVerify is. SSN, once granted, is pretty static unless someone mistakenly declares you dead. eVerify is subject to change every single moment of every single day, and if any of those changes are wrong, whether intentionally or accidentally, it could take years and lots of $$$ to ge it corrected.

  2. “E-Verify Makes Working for a Living a Privilege Granted by the Government”

    I’d just like to point out that E-Verify makes hiring someone a privilege granted by the government, too.

    I don’t understand why I’m not free to hire whomever I please.

    If you don’t want to pay for government services for these people, then the solution is to cut government services. The solution is not to infringe on my freedom to hire whomever I please.

    1. P.S. I don’t owe you a job.

    2. Right on. Being employed by someone isn’t a right, but employing the people of your choice sure is.

      1. I tried arguing this with someone yesterday who insisted that homosexuals should be a protected class much like age, race, and gender.

        Then when I pointed out that the reasons minorities, the disabled, and women are disproportionately employed is because people don’t want to take on the risk of even employing someone who may sue them should they be fired, he said “Conspiracy much?”

        You can’t reason with people who say “The government restricts people’s rights all the time, such as my right to kill another person.”

  3. I have three middle names, and E-Verify throws up some flags on me. I can’t imagine the problems I’d have if my name weren’t the whitest one you could imagine.

  4. Well, yes, this system has existed for decades. Even since laws against employing people without permission to be in the country were passed, you have needed the government’s permission to work. You had to prove you had permission to live in the country. Employers take your SSN and check your employment eligibility. That’s why illegal aliens generally work for cash.

    The only difference is they are now formalizing it into a computer system.

    1. The difference is that now you need to show your ID/Passport/SS Card/Whatever before you start work. You have control of these. Loose these and you’re SOL until YOU get them replaced.

      This system moves the control to a bureaucracy which has no incentive to move you from the “Bad” to “Good”. If there is a problem, then you’re SOL until THEY correct the problem.

    2. Not really. Right now, except for government contractors and few other special employers all an employer has to do is get the employee to fill out an I-9 , look at the SS Card, Green card, etc. and keep the I-9 on record. The employer doesn’t have to submit the I-9 to the government, check eligibility, etc. You only have to produce it if inspected.

      1. Unless you’re in Arizona, where E-verify is required for everyone.

  5. So, having apparently realized that arbitrarily denying people the right to earn a living is a big problem, is the ACLU going to team up with the IJ to stop shit like requiring hairdressers and florists to get a license?

    1. No, because small business owners are likely to be kulaks. The ACLU has no sympathy for kulaks.

  6. Well, TSA grabs my balls before giving me a travel permit.
    I’m in the ‘new hire federal registry’ many times over.
    And one day when some tsa puke is stroking me I will drive my knee into his jaw rendering my personal liberty and work permit irrelevant…cheers

  7. Don’t you kinda need the “government’s permission” to do lots of things, like driving?

    I worked for government entities in the past, and even worked as an assistant at a school. When I was hired I had to show them my ID, SS number and proof of citizenship. They took my finger print digitally to make sure I wasn’t a child molester. I had to take TB tests a few time.

    Bureaucracies can be a headache, but even if E-verify worked more often than not, Reason wouldn’t be down with it because they want employers to just hire whoever they want.

    In theory, I should be able to hire a Mexican guy who jumped the border 3 months ago is desperate enough to work for 5 dollars an hour to start. That would save me a ton of money. In practice though, it wouldn’t fly for the most part.

    I’m for limited government, not anarchy. I can’t accept a nation without ANY kind of boundaries or immigration standards.

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