An Idea Whose Time Has Finally Come? The Case for Employment Verification
Although the Immigration Reform and Control Act criminalized the employment of unauthorized immigrants, it failed to provide employers with the necessary tools to determine who is authorized to work and who is not. This brief provides a historical overview of various attempts at implementing workplace enforcement in the United States before arguing in favor of a process not unlike credit-card verification that allows employers to swipe a card at the point of hire and receive a response in real time from the Social Security Administration informing them whether an employee is authorized to work in the United States.
Based on lessons learned from over 20 years of good ideas, imperfect legislation, and failed implementation, the report concludes that employment verification is and must be the capstone of a comprehensive immigration enforcement regime. It further suggests that recent technical advances and public attitudes appear to indicate that creating and implementing a simple, timely, and reliable swipe card system—one that balances ease of use with privacy protections—is entirely possible. However, the new system will require help from the government to fund the initial implementation costs, require mandatory participation by businesses, enforce compliance through heavier sanctions, and guard against discriminatory practices.