Huffington Post Skips E-Verify

By Bryan Griffith on May 12, 2011

The Huffington Post published an article yesterday entitled, "Chipotle, Undocumented Workers, And The Trouble With 'Enforcement-Only' Immigration," by Dave Jamieson. It discusses how, through an Obama administration immigration audit, the majority of the Chipotle restaurant chain's illegal alien workers in the Washington, D.C. area have been fired but have not left the country, as they are searching for new jobs or have already found new jobs.

Jamieson seems to use this fact as an indictment of the "Attrition through Enforcement" strategy. This strategy includes, but is not limited to, the barring of illegal alien workers from employment by various means. Although there are many facets to the attrition strategy, the article in question focuses primarily on employment and so will this blog.

The article notes, ". . .advocates of comprehensive reform like to point out that few, if any, of the fired Chipotle workers seem to be giving up on the idea of U.S. employment. The workers simply move to other jobs. . ." This is hardly surprising because the only enforcement tool used were immigration audits (as has been pointed out by my colleague Jon Feere), which is simply a paperwork check and a warning from ICE to fire those who are not eligible to work. It in no way stops the offending illegal worker from re-entering the workforce. But this is not the only option.

The first option should be for ICE to arrive at Chipotle and arrest the offending workers. I sense that would be a sure-fire way to guarantee the illegal workers do not re-enter the local workforce and therefore, by the author's definition, make enforcement-only work. They could also question the illegal alien workers while in custody to find out if the employer was knowingly employing illegal aliens (there is currently no proof of this in the case of Chipotle).

But perhaps Jamieson is making the assumption that the current administration wants to avoid the political spectacle that can come from such visible enforcement efforts. If that is the case, there is another tool that can work in the background, much like the audits, called E-Verify.

E-Verify could be implemented in varying degrees. After an immigration audit finds a company to have a large number of illegal workers on its rolls, such as at Chipotle, ICE could mandate the employer use E-Verify. This would make sure the company is in the clear for future audits. Furthermore, if a specific occupation is deemed to be rife with illegal hires, as the Huffington Post article insinuates the D.C.-area restaurant industry is, then it would be sound to mandate the use of E-Verify within that occupation and region.

Of course, E-Verify is a tool that should be used nationally for all new hires, something which would require congressional action. But if you have to start somewhere, start where audits have proven it's needed.

Topics: E-Verify