David R. Henderson  

The Question on Regulation I Would Like Asked of Republican Candidates

Highlighting a Waste of Time... Somin on the Backlash to Deseg...

As you know if you follow presidential politics, there are 2 "debates" today among the candidates for the Republican nomination for president.

Here's the question I would like one of the questioners to ask:

Some of you advocate compulsory E-Verify, a federal government program under which employers would be required to verify potential employees' legal status before hiring them. Immigration analyst Alex Nowrasteh has called E-Verify "a Department of Motor Vehicles for the labor market." Many of you have criticized Obamacare and other government initiatives by comparing them to the efficiency and friendliness of your state DMV. Do you think a compulsory E-Verify would work substantially better than the DMV? If so, why and if not, why not? Also, do you worry that this regulation will give the federal government too much power over employer-employee relations? If so, why and if not, why not? I ask this also of those of you who oppose E-Verify.

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CATEGORIES: Labor Market

COMMENTS (11 to date)
Brad writes:

This is a good question. It's one thing to state on the campaign trail that 'before you get a job, you must be a citizen'. This statement plays up to people's notion of fairness. After all, why should illegals get jobs?

But implementing such a (terrible) policy would unleash horrible, unintended consequences that would make the original problem seem trivial.

Tom DeMeo writes:

I would expect it to be worse than a typical DMV. In addition to the typical problems the federal government has with software development, we really don't allow the government to register citizens or require them to have a centralized, reliable federal identity. The inevitable result will be that several million people will have ambiguous or conflicting data.

Unless we are willing to rethink our relationship with government and allow it to reliably know who its citizens are, its hard to see this working out well.

TMC writes:

Tom, SS numbers have been mandatory for quite some time.

Johnson85 writes:

My answers if I were a candidate:

First, I would qualify by stating that e-verify is a second best solution. The best solution would be to have constitutional protections in place that prevent one group of citizens voting away the freedom, including economic freedom, of other citizens and institutions such as the Supreme Court that can credibly commit to enforcing those protections. Because we don't have such protections and because we do not have credible institutions committed to enforcing the rule of law, immigration restrictions and e-verify are a second best solution. With respect to your questions:

Q: Do you think a compulsory E-Verify would work substantially better than the DMV? If so, why and if not, why not?
A: Yes. It will certainly not be hassle free, but there will be two private parties attempting to make it work, and there will be no waiting in line at the DMV.

Q: Also, do you worry that this regulation will give the federal government too much power over employer-employee relations? If so, why and if not, why not?
A: There is already too much intrusion into and power over employer-employee relations by the federal gov't. This is a least bad solution that addresses a serious problem without materially increasing the already existing intrusion into employer/employee relationships.

Not sure if I buy all of that, but I think it's perfectly consistent to support E-Verify while complaining about other gov't regulations.

MikeP writes:

Do you think a compulsory E-Verify would work substantially better than the DMV?

I expect it would work substantially better than the DMV. After all, the main problem with the DMV is that you have to visit it.

But in Soviet America, E-Verify visits you!

ColoComment writes:

First, E-Verify has been around in one form or another since 1997. It is already mandatory for federal vendors and contractors, and some states mandate it as well. According to Wikipedia*, it works just fine and has a [relatively] high user satisfaction rate.
* for all I know, the Wiki entry may have been 100% written by some .gov flunky, so take it for what it's worth.

If the government is going to hold employers legally (criminally?) responsible for having hired, even unknowingly, an illegal immigrant, it should provide a method for those employers to verify the legality of job applicants, at least sufficiently to serve as an affirmative defense to prosecution or administrative action. Form I-9 requirements may be met with fraudulent work papers and/or fake/duplicate SSNs, both of which are readily obtainable, or so I read in the media. How SHOULD an employer check the legality of applicants, if not with some E-Verify-type of program?

Second, the federal government already sits in judgment over how an employer may hire/fire, down to the types of interview questions it may ask, whether it may review criminal arrest/conviction records prior to making an offer, what information a former employer may reveal, what types of "diversity" records it must keep to stifle an EEOC action, who is an employee v contractor, etc. Are you really worried that something like E-Verify will give the federal government too much power over employer-employee relations?

MikeDC writes:

Well, the government actually already requires employers to collect this sort of information and store it. So I'd say that Nowrashteh's comparison is flawed because he assumes the worst case implementation of a law that doesn't exist yet.

Collecting and submitting the information is no additional burden to employers who are already required to collect and store the info.

Reading through the E-Verify literature, the potential bottleneck seems to be what happens when there's a Tentative Non Confirmation (TNC) issued when it's unclear if a worker is authorized.

If this is kicked back to the employer to work out, it's expensive. If the government runs it down and doesn't act until then (i.e. presumes innocence), then it doesn't seem like much of a hassle for businesses or individuals.

Tom DeMeo writes:

TMC- Yes, SS numbers have been mandatory to get a job. But they are not designed to be an ID, and are badly abused. The government makes no serious attempt to reconcile conflicting data or ensure their validity. There are many millions of SS numbers that are used illegally.

The Original CC writes:

MikeP- Hilarious!

Daublin writes:

My experience with E-Verify is pretty bad, when it comes to legally hiring foreign workers. I've had my workers be threatened with deportation over what should have been minor clerical problems.

Bear in mind E-Verify is *on top of* all the other legal requirements that already exist for employment. I'm talking about people that already had their visas and tax-payer IDs lined up and in order.

khodge writes:

I-9s are already part of the process; I doubt any but Fiorina and Carson are aware of them.

I-9s remind me of the observation that the government can find all sorts of laws that you are breaking when it chooses to destroy you. Other than just another layer of bureaucracy, I can't see how E-Verify adds anything to the process.

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