On Turning E-Verify 'Sprinkles' into 'Icing'

By Janice Kephart on July 5, 2011

President Obama has half-heartedly stated that "E-Verify can be an important enforcement tool". This simple commentary, although riddled with predictable qualifications, is a huge step forward for a president silent on the subject until after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to uphold Arizona's E-Verify compliance law.

William Riley, Former ICE Special Agent
in Charge, Discusses E-Verify:
View the Full Interview

Perhaps seeing the writing on the wall, and well aware that he has no plan at all for his over-talked Comprehensive Immigration Reform, E-Verify may seem like something he should embrace. Even the most vehement opponent of E-Verify, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is now supporting House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) in his one big bid for immigration reform this year: mandatory E-Verify (H.R. 2164). With the Chamber no longer stridently seeking E-Verify's demise, the president was, up until last week, standing alone in his silence on this successful worker authorization tool, which I have shown to be 99.5 percent effective in my studies.

That leaves one person in particular in the D.C. Beltway think tank/special interest group arena still hankering for E-Verify's downfall. According to a story in today's Albany Times Union on the push to make E-Verify a program to remove the 7 million illegal immigrants, according to Rep. Smith, from their U.S. jobs and enable Americans to apply for them, an outspoken former Judiciary Committee employee said this: "Congress tends to want to sprinkle technology onto economic and social problems and think that that will make them go away," said Jim Harper, director of information policy studies at the libertarian Cato Institute.

Well, Mr. Harper, E-Verify is more like icing on the employment cake than sprinkles. The program, if mandatory, applies to everyone. That means you and I as Americans are more likely protected in our jobs from, say, a well-known but illegal prize-winning writer who gets his jobs by using a series of fraudulent documents. That's a social and economic problem that begins to be solved, as you aptly put it, job application by job application. Kudos to Rep. Smith for seeking to turn sprinkles into icing and more kudos to Cato for providing me with a nice metaphor that is quite tasty, with a little small fold in the word batter.

Topics: E-Verify