Does E-Verify need to be fixed?

We recently looked at the massive ICE raids in Mississippi that netted nearly seven hundred illegal aliens working at seven different food processing plants in that state. While it was surely obvious to the plant owners and managers that some of the workers were in the country illegally (at least the ones wearing ICE ankle monitors, anyway), many others might have been harder to spot. So if we are to assume that not everyone in the company was knowingly hiring illegals, how did they all manage to get jobs?

The LA Times has a good article on the subject this week, including interviews with some of the illegal workers themselves. They discovered that the E-Verify system has a couple of problems with it and one major weakness. And it may be time to take a fresh look at the system and make some improvements. First of all, the illegal immigrants apparently have very little trouble obtaining a fake social security card bearing the name of an actual citizen. And E-Verify can’t tell the difference.

Arriving in Mississippi last year, Beatriz, a 22-year-old Guatemalan, quickly learned all she had to do was purchase fraudulent documents and apply at one of the many plants where cursory reviews and few questions are the norm.

So she paid a man $1,500 for a fake Social Security card, a matching identification card with her photo and a new name: Brandy. Within days, she had a job cutting and weighing chicken at Pearl River Foods in the town of Carthage.

“It’s not a secret. Almost everyone works with another name,” she said. “All they do is verify your Social Security number and your ID with another name and you’re good.”

There are actually a slew of problems being highlighted in this article, but not all of them can be blamed on the government. They claim that as many as half of the people hired in that region never have their applications run through E-Verify, even though it’s mandated under state law. That’s the fault of the employers who are breaking the law, but it also sounds as if the law is almost unenforceable.

The next issue is the fact that the illegal aliens can seemingly obtain a fake Social Security card both cheaply and easily. The people selling these documents are criminals engaged in felonies, so better enforcement of existing law will be required to cut back on that activity. It’s also a good reminder to keep in mind whenever you’re lectured about how all of these “undocumented” aliens aren’t breaking any serious laws and should be left alone. Purchasing a fake Social Security card and using someone else’s name to work illegally at a job and receive pay for it is a felony. They are not “innocent undocumented immigrants.”

But the big item on the list is the fact that the E-Verify system is so easily fooled. Apparently, you can run any legal citizen’s name and SSN through and it will simply approve them. It seems as if there should be some way to have the system recognize when the name matches someone who lives in an entirely different part of the country or is retired (or even dead) and have E-Verify toss up a red flag and halt the process until further investigation is done. It would be a worthwhile investment for the government to make in this technology if that’s the case.

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John Stossel 12:01 AM on June 09, 2023