So why did the House leadership try to fast-track a border bill (which has been at least temporarily derailed because immigration hawks objected to its phoniness) instead of passing an E-Verify mandate? E-Verify enables employers filing the payroll paperwork for new hires to check online (for free) whether the new hires are lying about who they are. (You can even E-Verify yourself to make sure Social Security has your information right.) It goes a long way toward turning off the jobs magnet for illegals, though some still slip through. It is now voluntary, though widely used; last time I checked, it looked like about one-third of new hires were being E-Verified.

A phased-in mandate for all employers to use E-Verify has been included in a number of proposed bills, either as part of “comprehensive” abominations like the Schumer-Rubio Gang of Eight bill or as standalone measures. In fact, the House Judiciary Committee actually approved a free-standing E-Verify bill in the last Congress.

Such a measure would have much to recommend it, both politically and as a policy matter. It would be popular, as the polling above shows. It would shift some of the focus from individual, often sympathetic, foreigners to employers, while at the same time enabling legitimate employers to comply with the law. It would strike an important blow against identity theft and fraud. And it would provide greater marginal enforcement benefit than more money spent at the border, where so much has already been spent.