There's no question that the situation of our immigration laws is a mess. So, how about a "comprehensive" reform, with a new law of now-standard size for what comes out of Congress, say 1000 pages, plus or minus?
Unfortunately, it is not possible to come up with a thousand-page law without introducing hundreds of unintended consequences into the system. I cannot identify with certainty all the minefields that are lurking in the gigantic "gang of 8" comprehensive immigration reform bill now working its way through Congress, and neither can anyone else. But universal "e-verify" is definitely one of them.
John Cochrane of the University of Chicago has an important article on this subject in Friday's Wall Street Journal. Title: "Think Government Is Intrusive Now? Wait Until E-Verify Kicks In." Cochrane makes the obvious point that everyone is missing: just because it is talked about as part of immigration reform and appears in an immigration bill does not mean that e-verify is just about immigrants. E-verify is about everybody, and it is a system whereby everybody will need prior government approval to earn a living in the United States.
E-Verify is the real monster. If this part of the bill passes, all employers will be forced to use the government-run, Web-based system that checks potential employees' immigration status. That means, every American will have to obtain the federal government's prior approval in order to earn a living.
Does anybody really believe that once it is established that prior government approval is required to earn a living that the criteria will be limited to just immigration status? Cochrane lists some of the obvious categories that the government can easily add to its criteria. Shouldn't we check for child porn convictions before hiring someone to work with children? How about DWI convictions before hiring someone to drive a bus or pilot an airliner? Heck, how about a required check of federal records for any and all past criminal behavior?
And what a great system this will be to enable the government to keep its political opponents down! Those who think the government would never do such a thing have not been following the IRS scandal. But how about taking an example from just a few days ago: On Tuesday July 30 the Chattanooga (Tennessee) Times Free Press published an editorial titled "Take Your Jobs Plan And Shove It, Mr. President." It happened that President Obama was in town that day to give a speech on his new so-called "jobs" plan. Key quote from the TFP editorial:
That’s because your jobs creation plans so far have included a ridiculous government spending spree and punitive tax increase on job creators that were passed, as well as a minimum wage increase that, thankfully, was not. Economists — and regular folks with a basic understanding of math — understand that these are three of the most damaging policies imaginable when a country is mired in unemployment and starving for job growth.
Within two days the editor of the editorial, one Drew Johnson, had been fired, and the title had been changed to "President Obama's Policies Have Harmed Chattanooga Enough."
Investor's Business Daily on August 2 asks whether the White House had a role in the firing. They accompany their question with a list of prior White House actions in meddling with press stories about the President and first family:
We have no special information, but it's significant that President Obama was in town that week, visiting an Amazon operation to tout his jobs plan. Johnson's hard-hitting editorial drew unwelcome attention to that failed employment blueprint.
And this is a White House that has called up newspapers and asked them to remove lines in stories.
In 2011, Gina Channell-Allen, president of the Pleasanton Weekly in California, said she "received a call from the White House asking us to take out part of the story because it reflected poorly on the first lady."
The White House also threatened to blacklist San Francisco Chronicle reporter Carla Marinucci from the press pool during Obama's visit to the Bay Area in 2011 because she covered an unflattering-to-Obama protest.
The White House has also targeted the press with the Internal Revenue Service, as happened to Commentary magazine, as described by editor John Podhoretz last May. Accuracy in Media's Cliff Kincaid reported that two other media outlets were also IRS targets.
It is just not possible for government bureaucrats to avoid political mis-use of the tools at their disposal.
So, for immigration reform, how about scrapping the 1000 page bill and pass a one-pager that loosens restrictions on high skill immigrants?