20 September 2011

E-Verify: The Wrong Solution

John Hawkins has a very good article on addressing illegal immigration.  However, the idea of an E-Verify system seems misguided:
1) E-verify: This is the single most important thing we can do to combat illegal immigration because it gets to the root of why most illegals are coming here and staying here: jobs. If we mandate E-Verify -- which is really just a way to check the validity of Social Security numbers -- and the government puts the resources into the program, it will lock illegal aliens out of the overwhelming majority of jobs in America. Once we get to that point, there's no reason for most illegals to come here or for most of the illegals that are already here to stay here. So, if the flow of illegals into the country dramatically slows and the illegals that are already here begin to self-deport because they have no work, the biggest part of the problem is solved.
I’m not opposed to E-Verify as a consequence of prior actions.  If the government formally and informally institutes policies that encourage businesses to hire illegal immigrants to work off-the-record, then some sort of worker verification is a rational response to correcting the market imbalance brought about by government interference.  That said, I think it better for the government to end the interference that brought about the current labor situation instead of trying to correct for it with more legislation and enforcement.

This means that the government needs to do at least two things:

First, the federal government must completely deregulate domestic labor.  No more minimum wage, no more minimum age, no more mandatory overtime pay, no more payroll taxes that an employer must match (e.g. FICA), etc.  Americans are prevented, by their own government, from competing with illegal aliens in the labor market.  Americans cannot freely compete on price or availability, which is why illegals are popular choices for cheap and/or demanding labor.

Second, in conjunction with the first step, the federal government must end any and all forms of poverty assistance.  The constitution does not authorize the federal government to help impoverished citizens.  This is, properly, the duty of individuals, or their respective states’ governments if they so wish to defer.  In no way can it be argued that the federal government should be involved in helping poor people.

Furthermore, federal assistance effectively discourages poor people from taking low-wage jobs.  Proponents of open borders and illegal labor often say that there are jobs Americans just won’t do.  And this is true:  Why should a poor person work a demanding, low-wage job when he can sit on his couch all day and receive a check from the government?  But if you take away the security blanket of federal funds, poor people will be more inclined to take terrible jobs because a low-pay job is better than starving to death in the street.

There are more instances of deregulation that are necessary, mostly because regulations work effectively as taxes, and tend to increase the cost of living, which impacts marginal workers (read: poor people).  As such, it would be helpful to deregulate the things that people need in order to live, like housing and food services.  But this needn’t be done upfront as poor people taking the crap jobs once held by illegals would not feel the effects instantly.  But it should be done sometime, in relatively short order.

At any rate, this proposal is unlikely to ever come to fruition because the government never relinquishes power.  It only asks for more and more, unceasingly and unwaveringly.  As such, the E-Verify program should come to pass, unless the federal government really hates its citizens.  However, it would be much nicer if the government would relinquish control over its citizens and simply let the market revert to its natural state.

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