We’ve all lived long enough to see how government programs often have unintended negative consequences; sometimes benign, sometimes dangerous.
E-Verify, currently a “voluntary” program, is such an initiative that envelopes negative potential of the dangerous kind. Not only can it fragilize the US economy, it can also strike at the very foundation of societal freedom.
What is E-Verify and what does it do?
E-verify is a program that allows businesses to access federal databases to match the Social Security numbers, biometric data, and other identifiers of people applying for employment. Its goal is to identify job applicants who are in the US illegally.
You might ask, what’s wrong with that? After all, aren’t immigration hardliners already looking to boost security measures, the most prominent being the border wall?
To use a harsh metaphor, the problem is that the “cure” can be much worse than (what hardliners see as) the “disease.” Or to put it more lightly, the unintended consequences can be worse than the intended results.
As Ron Paul writes in Mises.Org, here is a summary of everything that can go wrong:
1. More bureaucracy = larger government = larger room for error = greater taxpayer costs: We’ve all experienced the negative effects of inefficient bureaucracy: the waiting, the errors, the inability to get things done, or to get issues resolved. These inefficiencies are costly, and they are paid for by you in the form of taxes. As Ron Paul explains:
“Imagine how much time would be diverted from serving consumers and growing the economy if every US business had to comply with E-Verify. Also, collecting the relevant information and operating the mandatory E-Verify system will prove costly to taxpayers.”
2. You are denied a job because E-Verify mistakenly identifies you as an illegal immigrant: Fixing a clerical error of this scale would not be an easy fix. Not only would it be costly, it would also be time-consuming. Meanwhile, most employers may not have the time to wait around if they have other qualified candidates. A missed opportunity of this kind can be life-changing.
3. A centralized database with Social Security numbers and other personal identification info is a cyber-hackers dream: The government already does a mediocre job at keeping everyone’s personal information safe; how much worse will it be should E-Verify become a mandatory program accessible to all businesses?
4. E-Verify has the capacity to become a national ID system, which is dangerous in the hands of the wrong administration: Essentially, this would constitute an overreach that would pose a threat to civil liberties.
“These individuals are ignoring the history of government programs sold as only affecting a particular group or being used for a limited purpose being expanded beyond initial targets...For example, Americans were promised that only the wealthiest Americans would ever pay income taxes...E-Verify almost certainly will be used for purposes unrelated to immigration.”
5. E-Verify can be used to facilitate punitive measures against citizens who displease them: just take a look at the IRS’s history of collusion with those in power to target political opponents. Giving the government permission to implement such a program is to underestimate the potential downside of such a system, a downside that is significantly greater than any upside benefit.
One potential use of E-Verify is to limit the job prospects of anyone whose lifestyle displeases the government. This could include those accused of failing to pay their fair share in taxes, those who homeschool or do not vaccinate their children, or those who own firearms. Unscrupulous government officials could use E-Verify against those who practice antiwar, anti-tax, anti-surveillance, and anti-Federal Reserve activism...Also consider the current moves to outlaw certain types of “politically incorrect” speech, such as disputing the alleged “consensus” regarding climate change.
6. To be required to ask government’s “permission” to be hired, or to hire someone, is characteristic of an “authoritarian society,” not a free democratic society.
“Furthermore, having to ask the federal government for permission before obtaining a job is a characteristic of authoritarian societies, not free ones. History shows that mandatory E-Verify’s use will expand beyond immigration enforcement and could be used as a tool of political repression. All those who value liberty should oppose mandatory E-Verify.”
In the past, we’ve covered several instances and developments in the “war on cash.”
Despite its intention to curb the hiring of illegal immigrants, E-Verify is nothing less than a war on privacy, a war on freedom, and a war on the very principles of free markets.
As a social and economic remedy, E-Verify is a dangerous pill to swallow, as it is both a “cure” and a “poison.”