Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Cato on Employment Verification

Jim Harper of the Cato Institute testified at the House's Hearing on Proposals to Improve the Electronic Employment Verification System last week, and made some very important points about privacy and government intrusiveness. Here are some quotes. There is much more valuable material in the complete text.

[I]mprovements that prevent eligible citizens from working should not be adopted. It is more important that American citizens and eligible people should be able to work than it is to exclude illegal aliens from working. There is probably no way to change the current system so that it prevents more ineligible people from working without also preventing more citizens and eligible people from working. [...]

The policy that will dissipate the need for electronic verification by fostering legality is aligning immigration law with the economic interests of the American people. [...]

Because the I-9 process and employer sanctions seek to defeat their economic interests, the system has two principle opponents: employers and workers. It relies on them for implementation, though, which is why success has been so elusive and will continue to be. [...]

Let there be no illusion that people seeking redress for a "tentative nonconfirmation" from the Social Security Administration or the Department of Homeland Security will enjoy a pleasant, speedy process. [...] People will wait in line for hours to access bureaucrats that are not terribly interested in getting them approved for employment. [...]

Electronic verification would have far greater privacy consequences than the current system — and these consequences would fall on American citizens, not on illegal immigrants. [...]

Ironically, all of this government spending and expanded bureaucracy would go toward preventing productive exchanges between employers and workers. Taxes and spending would rise to help stifle U.S. economic growth. Astounding.

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