Tuesday, June 19, 2007

More immigration problems

I readily admit that I have not done my due diligence and actually read the immigration proposals (I'm not even sure they have been released, finalized, etc). But if the report from Heritage is correct there is a sginficant expansion of federal regulation of buiness a bureaucratic nightmare coming to every legal U.S. worker and employer. Most significant for those of us who are employees rather than emploers:

Under the proposal, each worker would be required to prove work authorization even if he or he has already done so under current law. A passport or birth certificate would not be sufficient; a new "confirmation" from DHS is required. American workers would actually need approval from DHS to continue working in their current jobs.

Things are worse for our bosses. First there will be increased record keeping and no doubt hiring compliance officers, and

[i]n addition, before contracting with other businesses, such as cleaning and construction companies, employers may be required to check with DHS to "obtain confirmation from the secretary that the contractor or subcontractor has registered with the Employment Eligibility Verification System (EEVS) and is utilizing [it] to verify its employees" (Sec. 302(a)(3)(B)).

So, who on earth came up with this? The fact that I have already proven my right to work in this country, not only to the satisfaction of my current employer but also the Department of State (my birth certificate got me a passport) is basically moot. My U.S. Birth Certificate won't be enough to prove that I am a citizen of the U.S. and elible to work here?

As an economic conservative, I am usually most interested in the bottom line of policy: what's this going to cost the taxpayers and the private sector. The Heritage report doesn't specify, and I am not qualified to estimate the costs with any particularity. Nonetheless, given such things as A) the sunk costs of implementing the system, B) the cost of compliance by the private sector (including both out of pocket and opportunity costs) and C) the cost of enforcement by the public sector, it doesn't seem like it would outweigh the benefit of re-ensuring that I am elligible to work in this country (as Heritage does point out, how many software engineers, or in my case lawyers, are working here illegally?). And lest you begin to think "eh, my employer can afford this, it doesn't really affect me" remember that like any good or service,when costs of labor go up, quantity demanded goes down. This means if you aren't productive enough to justify these costs or willing to take a pay cut to help offset them, off to the unemployment line you go (therby costing those who do keep our jobs even more in taxes). Hmm, with that in mind, perhaps I should get off the internet and back to work

Why does immigration reform impose nonsensical requirements on natural born citizens? Surely we can do better.

(h/t Paul at Right Side of the Rainbow - I encourage you to visit and take a look at his list of Senators in dire need of a call from constituents)

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