The lower number of illegal aliens crossing the southern border is good news, but the numbers remain too high. (Technically, any number greater than zero is too high, but we’re still nowhere near zero.) Despite increased activity in the deportation department and tough messaging from Washington, there are still jobs waiting for many illegal aliens and that makes the trip across the border worth the risk.

The LA Times (of all places) has a sobering article about why we’re not making more progress in cutting off this incentive for illegal border crossings. In short, the E-Verify system is full of holes as well as being lacking in fraud detection capability. They focus first on Texas, one place you’d think would really be good at rooting out such problems, but they are shockingly lax when it comes to making sure that employers aren’t hiring illegals.

But despite [Texas’s] determined use of technology, it has no one in charge of making agencies comply with the law. It also does not require private employers to use the system if they are not working with the state.

And that, some immigration experts say, highlights a flaw in how states and the federal government combat illegal immigration.

E-Verify is supposed to weed out would-be workers in the country illegally, but its use is largely optional. In states that do require E-Verify, its use is inconsistent, even in a state such as Texas.

Some immigrant rights activists complain that governments, though eager to target workers in the country illegally, protect the employers who hire them. Texas Democrats have come up with a term to describe this situation — a twist on the phrase “sanctuary cities” — that JoAnn Flemming, executive director of the conservative group Grassroots America, says she can agree with.

Instead of sanctuary cities and sanctuary states, they’re talking about “Sanctuary Businesses” and it’s a very important distinction. This is, if anything, a far bigger problem than sanctuary cities refusing to work with ICE on deportations of those already here illegally. A sanctuary business maintains the incentive for more illegal aliens to keep replacing any that we do manage to deport.

The shocking part of this is the fact that the E-Verify system actually does work (with a couple of exceptions we’ll get to in a moment) but it’s not generally being used. Texas requires it, but only if you are doing business with the state. Private employers with no state contracts don’t have to use it. Across the entire country there are only four states (Arizona, Alabama, Mississippi and South Carolina) who mandate use of the system for all public and private employers.

And even there, some of them like South Carolina have massive loopholes where the E-Verify system isn’t mandatory for, “housekeepers, landscapers, farm workers, nannies and fisherman.” Excuse me? Aren’t those some of the employment categories where you would most likely need the system? Even worse, most places have little in the way of enforcement mechanisms and punishments for employers caught cheating are described as “infrequent and light.”

They highlight one other serious problem. One series of raids in 2012 revealed that roughly fifty percent of the illegal aliens found to be working at a particular employer had passed the E-Verify check. How? They had fake social security numbers and the the system has no way to flag that as a problem.

I’ve been talking about this for years, but this report does a good job of highlighting the problem. Too many politicians at the local, state and federal level are not serious about going after employers. Chuck Grassley has introduced legislation three times now which would make the use of E-Verify mandatory across the nation. Each time the effort has died in Congress.

This is a problem with a solution already available to us. But we seem to be electing people (including the Republicans) who don’t have the spine to get this done.That needs to change.