E-Verify and the Emerging Surveillance State

Posted: March 19, 20091:00 am Eastern

By Tom DeWeese © 2009

We have an illegal-alien problem in this nation for one reason – the federal government refuses to protect the borders. Instead of doing its job, now the government wants to force business to be the first line of defense against the illegal invasion.

The Department of Homeland Security is fighting efforts in local communities to allow police to arrest illegals. There is little effort to tighten visa security. Those illegals caught committing crimes are still allowed to leave, only to easily and surreptitiously return at their will. The border is a sieve.

The answer, say some very powerful anti-immigration forces, is to put the burden of control on American businesses. Jobs, they say, are the draw to illegals. They say we should just get tough with business and stop the ability of illegals to get a job. But such a plan can have dire consequences if a nation desires to remain free.

Chief among the schemes to "get tough" with business is the E-Verify System. It should be renamed "Get Permission to work from the Feds" program. It uses the Social Security number as the only means to obtain a job. It means that every baby born here will basically be stamped, registered and numbered to live in our society.

E-Verify requires employers to fire employees if they can't resolve "no match" discrepancies within 90 days. If the employer does not terminate the workers, that employer face fines of $11,000 or more, along with the threat of criminal charges. E-Verify is being sold as the atom bomb in the war on illegal immigration.

Millions of employees could mistakenly fall into legal limbo

The fact is, the Social Security Administration, or SSA, never purges a Social Security number once it's assigned. That database (which E-Verify uses) currently contains 435 million records, 100 million more than the nation's total population, legal or otherwise. In December 2006, the SSA inspector general reported approximately 18 million of these records are not accurate. Says Jim Harper at the CATO Institute, "That means that if E-Verify were to go national, on the first day 1 in 25 legal hires would be bounced out of the system and asked to go down to the Social Security office and straighten out the problem."

Imagine the problems faced by honest, law-abiding Americans who are thrown out of the system. From the moment they are found to be a "tentative non-confirmed" they have eight days to contest the claim and to prove they are legal. A day off work is required because the Social Security office is only open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. If the employee fails to resolve the problem, the employer is required by threat of fine and criminal charges to fire the employee. Moreover, the Social Security Administration is simply not equipped to handle such a massive influx of cases.

Employees who do make it to the Social Security office may be forced to return day after day. Jobs and income will be lost as the Employment Eligibility Verification (EEV) process does not permit employers to hold the jobs or delay start dates. The clock starts to tick the second the tentative non-confirmed notice is issued and runs out in exactly eight days.

The burden is on the employees to prove they are legal citizens or residents eligible to continue working. These law-abiding American citizens enter the Social Security office as criminal suspects with the potential of being deported. Contrary to American law, they are guilty until proven innocent, with no appeals process in place.

More fraud – not less

Once the system is in place, there are huge gaps that allow massive fraud.

First, mandatory use of the Social Security number to obtain work will make such numbers more valuable on the black market than cocaine. Stolen records by government employees and lost laptops are far too common now.

Second, illegal immigration is big business, with the money and the means to create false documents and to provide "legal" identification, complete with matching names and Social Security numbers, creating a massive criminal market for American citizens' personal information.

An illegal only has to be provided the name and Social Security number of a legal citizen. Since that legal person may already be working a job, it will not create an alert if the information is used by someone else. The real losers in this game are the people who will have their identity stolen in the process. Yet, they may be the ones accused of identity theft as they suddenly discover someone else is using their name and Social Security number.

Mission creep

As Cato's Jim Harper surmises, "The things to make a system like this impervious to forgery and fraud would convert it from an identity system into a cradle-to-grave biometric tracking system."

It's called "mission creep," and a prime example is the Social Security System itself. It was designed specifically as a means for people to deposit money into a government program to provide for their retirement years. Those who want to take its databank and transform it into an identity system to prove American citizenship use the excuse, "It's already there." That's mission creep.

The only way to assure that only legal workers are hired is for the federal government to create a new database that records every new hire and monitors all employees in the nation. That, of course, is the real goal.

On numerous occasions, former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff expressed his desire to create a national identification card that would include job, medical, tax and school records, biometric and facial recognition, and RFID microchips that could monitor the whereabouts of every American. Most recently, DHS announced it wants to move the Social Security Administration under its wing. Why would that be necessary unless DHS intends E-Verify to be part of a national or international security system?

Enforcement of E-Verify sets the stage for a national workforce management system that gives the government ultimate power to decide who works and who doesn't. Coupled with the Real ID driver's license, it is designed to ultimately subject all Americans to an intrusive global surveillance system, as the information in a network of databanks is being transferred internationally through such DHS partners as American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators and the International Civil Aviation Organization.

E-Verify won't stop illegal immigration, but it will make it much harder to keep this country free.