State Senator Dan Eastman was recently spotlighted in a local paper. The article includes information on some of the things Eastman wants to accomplish. This drew my interest:
Another one of Eastman’s bills will focus on illegal immigration. The bill proposes that the state create a database of legal immigrants, so that local employers can check on the status of any potential employees and clear them before hiring.
“It’s like the driving privilege card,” he said. “Only the people who are legally allowed to be here would show up on the database.”
Though Eastman expects mostly contractors to use the database, it would be open to all kinds of employers.
“More and more people have been showing up with counterfeit papers these days,” he said. “It’s really hard to tell the difference between a real green card and a counterfeit green card.”
My first inclination was to have some hope of progress. However, as I thought about it more, the measure he’s proposing is, essentially, totally ineffective unless it is coupled with employer identity verification requirements (such as ICE’s E-Verify etc). Even then, his proposal has very limited use. So why propose it?
My feeling is this may be a veiled attempt to kill or prevent bills dealing with identity verification by employers (thereby protecting identity theieves of all stripes, including illegal immigrants) . This bill, if passed, would allow legislators to insulate certain businesses from loosing sources of cheap labor (such as fugitives, illegal immigrants, deadbeat moms/dads etc).
By passing the bill, legislators could claim they have done something about illegal immigration and ID theft with a totally ineffective, ‘feel good with no results’ measure. Here’s why:
The bill would only track known legal immigrants in Utah. First, what employer is going to risk serious legal liability by assuming someone is an immigrant and should be ‘checked out’. The provision appears to be voluntary and any semi-smart employer is going to opt not to use the database out of valid legal concerns.
Second, the bill provides an exemption for citizen fugitives and identity thieves (it is limited to immigrants).
Third, who is going to add in the legal immigrants into the database? I’m unaware of any ICE program to do so (it would also then be ICE’s database and the State would not need to create one). So who in the State would have the authority to determine immigration status? Further, if the State is, indeed, in charge of the database it will be totally lacking as only Utah legal immigrants would be added/tracked. That leaves a massive data gap as legal immigrants are found nationwide. The database would never keep up with those entering or leaving from other States. Ultimately, for such a database to be effective, it would need to be administered on a national level. The measure would probably encroach on Federal authority (unless specifically delegated to the state) and be unconstitutional.
Finally, there would be a significant cost to such a database. It is silly to create such when free, effective programs (like ICE’s E-Verify) exist.
Methinks this bill is a red herring.