DownsizeDC.org
September 16, 2011
Mandatory "E-Verify" Amounts to National ID Card
By James Wilson

DownsizeDC.org signed the following letter to Congress:

Dear Member of Congress:

We, the undersigned national and state pro-freedom, limited government, and Constitutional government organizations, representing millions of Americans, encourage you to vote against the proposed “E-Verify” system established by H.R. 2885, the “Legal Workforce Act” that mandates the use of an electronic employment verification system by every employer in the U.S. for every person seeking employment in the U.S.

We are alarmed that E-Verify poses a threat to both the Constitution and every law-abiding citizen of this country because it:

  1. Creates a de facto national I.D. System - even for citizens;

  2. Violates individual civil liberties such as the right to work and free speech;
  3. Mandates a costly job-killing regulatory burden that cripples small business;
  4. Requires employers to become enforcement agents of the federal government;
  5. Encourages identify theft of law-abiding citizens.

National ID System

This onerous Act would require each American to ask permission from the Federal Government when hiring or being hired. The Act empowers the Department of Homeland Security to compile and monitor the personal information of every person seeking employment, and to surreptitiously transfer it to yet unspecified entities.

The result is a de facto National Identification System, and the enabling language that mandates the intrusive collection of personal data could grow to include biometrics such as fingerprints, DNA and/or iris scan. This invasion becomes tantamount an unconstitutional, warrantless search.

Violation of Civil Liberties

The dangerous and intrusive precedent set by the bill opens the floodgate of additional incursive and contentious employment verification hurdles. Mission creep is the signature of all bureaucracies. After enactment of the Legal Workforce Act, employers could soon be required to verify whether employees are delinquent in the payment of federal, state, or local taxes, in compliance with child support or alimony decrees, on a terrorist watch list, or convicted or even accused of crime.

We are born with an unalienable right to acquire property through our own labor. Private property is a bulwark against government oppression. Requiring citizens to secure permission from the Department of Homeland Security to enjoy the fruits of their labor is an unacceptable violation of our civil liberties.

Errors in the verification process will be practically immune from timely legal redress and violate another constitutional tenet. Citizens have already lost their jobs after DHS deemed them not “work-authorized.” The CBO reports that in 2009 about 80,000 workers likely received erroneous findings from the system and may have lost their jobs.

Fearing this retaliation, free speech will chill and citizens will be loath to criticize government.

Devastating Impact on Employers & Economy

This Act is falsely portrayed as containing safe harbor provisions for employers, yet there are no protections for them against criminal prosecution if they do indeed employ an individual later proven to be in the U.S. illegally or who has successfully assumed a fake or stolen identity. While acting as de facto law enforcement officers for the federal government, employers will need armies of expensive attorneys to safeguard against criminal prosecutions at a cost that small business can ill-afford even in a good economy.

The loss of jobs will be staggering as employers substitute machinery for employees or outsource employment to avoid the vexations and costs of compliance, as will the loss of tax revenues as jobs go underground. Here are some of the economic statistics according to the CBO and Bloomberg:

  • Mandatory E-Verify mandatory would increase the number of employers and workers who resort to the black market, outside of the tax system. This would decrease federal revenue by more than $17.3 billion over ten years. (CBO)
  • The cost to employers to fully implement E-Verify will be more than $6.1 billion for all businesses. (CBO)
  • Mandatory E-Verify will cost small businesses at least $2.6 billion in the first year. (Bloomberg)
  • One small Maryland business estimates their cost for one year will be $27,000 and decimate their ability to hire new workers. (U.S. Chamber v. Chertoff No. 08-CV-3444-AW)

Encourages Identity Theft

E-Verify will create an unprecedented black market demand for fake identities coveted by those seeking employment, particularly for short-term jobs where illegal workers will be long-gone before there is any chance of detection. Law-abiding citizens will become prime targets for skyrocketing identity theft, and we can only speculate as to the anticipated nightmare this “hit-and-run” use of their identities will create in the long range for the true owners to be able to work again.

Conclusion

E-verify, in short, is a national identification and surveillance system run by the DHS. It will lead to even more bureaucracy, bigger government, greater surveillance, and less freedom.

H.R. 2164 should never leave committee. It is anathema to limited government, the right to privacy, free enterprise and prosperity. It violates the philosophy of the Constitution and intent of the Framers by subordinating the liberty of citizens to the administrative convenience of government. And the Founding Fathers would have rebelled against such a staggering Federal intrusion into every workplace in the nation and our personal civil liberties.

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