No, this post isn’t about Obama, despite what the title may have led you to believe.
Let me tell you what I learned at work yesterday.
I’ve been assigned to put together a summary/FAQ type of thingy for our HR team about E-Verify. I don’t know if y’all know much about it, but basically it’s that online tool that DHS is in charge of which allows employers to double check with DHS and the Social Security Administration that the person they’ve just hired is Actually Eligible to work in the United States.
I just read through the entire employer manual (without falling asleep even!) and it all seemed to make sense, process-wise, until I reached the part that talked about the possible “Case Closure” reasons I could use when finalizing a hire. There are 11 possible reasons to close or finalize a case in E-Verify – one of which is that the employee totally checked out just fine and is ready and eligible to work, two of which have to do with making clerical mistakes with data entry on the case itself, two of which have to do with the employee terminating because they either quit or because the employer fired them for reasons unrelated to their work eligibility, and three of which have to do with the employer firing the employee because the E-Verify results proved that the person in question is ineligible to work in the US.
That all made perfect sense. It was the other three reasons which completely blew my mind. They were:
1. The employee continues to work for the employer after receiving a Final Nonconfirmation result – this means that E-Verify cannot verify that the employee is eligible to work in the US.
2. The employee continues to work for the employer after receiving a No Show result – this means that the employee contested results from E-Verify which stated that they were ineligible to work, but then didn’t do any follow up to prove why they contested the results.
3. The employee continues to work for the employer after choosing NOT to contest a Tentative Nonconfirmation – this means E-Verify couldn’t confirm their work eligibility, and the employee just flat didn’t care to deny it.
To be perfectly clear, these are LEGITIMATE REASONS employers can select to close out a case in E-Verify. So I thought to myself, “Wait a minute. If the purpose of E-Verify is to dissuade employers from hiring/retaining ineligible employees, then how are those three selections even possible?” So you know what I decided to do? Call DHS and ask them. Here’s how the conversation went.
DHS guy: Thanks for calling DHS – can I help you?
Me: Hi – I’m just learning about E-Verify and have a question about the selections to choose from when closing a case. Am I reading it correctly that I, as an employer, can use everify to find out that I have an employee ineligible to work in the US, but then continue to employ them anyway?
DHS guy: That’s correct. It’s the employer’s prerogative to continue to employ the worker who is unable to be verified by E-Verify.
Me: (stunned speechless)
DHS guy: Did you have any other questions?
Me: Yes. So, what exactly is the POINT of this entire exercise, if not to actually STOP employers from either hiring or continuing to employ workers who are not eligible to work in the US?
DHS guy: It’s to make employers more aware that they have either hired or are continuing to employ a worker who is ineligible to work in the US.
Me: But then once they’re more aware, they can just keep doing it?
DHS guy: Well, you always run the risk of being audited by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Me: Ok. So if I select that I’m closing a case through everify and continuing to employ someone who is ineligible, does DHS then alert ICE that I’ve done so?
DHS guy: No.
Me: Ok. So really, Everify has nothing to do with enforcement or prevention or tracking. Just “awareness.”
DHS guy: That’s correct.
I was dumbfounded by this. So then I started wondering what penalties employers have to pay if ICE DOES audit them. And you know what I found out? This.
It’s a few hundred to a few thousand bucks in fines. THAT IS IT.
There’s a reason we have an illegal immigration problem. It’s because we’re not only providing illegal immigrants with jobs, but we’re not really discouraging employers from hiring them, either. THE MOST OBVIOUS solution would be to disincentivize employers from giving them jobs in the first place, by making the consequences for doing so ACTUALLY PAINFUL FINANCIALLY. If employers know they'll be caught and fined substantially for hiring illegal immigrants, then you know what'll happen? They'll stop hiring them. And then you know what will happen? Illegal immigrants won't have a reason to keep coming here illegally.
So yeah, I learned a little more about how useless and stupid and pointless the government is. Not that I had doubts, but I had thought that this whole E-Verify thing at least had some BITE to it. Turns out, it’s just another costly government sub-agency which does nothing but “increase awareness.”