May 10, 2008
ICE versus employers

Jay Aiyer, who is an immigration attorney, has a suggestion for the process of verifying eligibility to work.

The reality is that the overwhelming numbers of businesses never knowingly hire anyone they believe is here illegally. They are required by law to inspect employment authorization and to determine if a person can legally work. One problem is that there is no realistic way to verify the authenticity of documents.

A possible solution would be to invest in a workable national database that can accurately determine the work authorization of workers. Instead, the government has decided to step up arrests and detention that cost millions more.

Programs like the "E-Verify" program are still too error-prone to be of assistance, and current law doesn't even require such verification. Moreover, while businesses must visually inspect documents, they run the risk of being accused of discrimination if they ask too many questions. Additionally, the documents themselves often can be easily duplicated and forged, making it even more difficult.

Businesses have a duty to inspect work authorization documents and maintain an "employment eligibility verification form" known as an I-9. For the most part, the majority of employers try their best to comply. But the federal government should not place the entire burden of enforcement on them. Instead the government needs to bring employers in as partners.

We all recognize that there are some employers out there who collude with document vendors to their advantage. That is where ICE's resources should be targeted -- not in random raids.

All businesses should conduct regular audits of their own hiring policies and procedures to make sure that all employees are properly filling out I-9 documents. However, federal authorities need to recognize that businesses ought to be encouraged and applauded for a self-audit process without potential penalties from ICE.

I'm a lot more skeptical of self-enforcing processes for businesses these days, given how things have been with the Bush administration. Still, there's a lot here that makes sense, and I do agree that the random-raids method of keeping businesses in line is not helpful. At the very least, I'd like to see more of the debate be along these lines. It's about finding practical solutions that can garner support across the spectrum.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 10, 2008 to National news

The only way this national database scheme will work is if we have national ID. I know we're effectively moving toward that in a piecemeal fashion with social security (which is appallingly insecure, as we already know), but to effectively carry out a national ID database, we're going to need effective national ID.

Posted by: Ginger Stampley on May 10, 2008 11:15 AM