I've spent the last few months studying and writing about electronic employment eligibility verification. This is the idea of requiring every employer in the country to check the immigration status of employees against Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration databases. A nationwide EEV program, building on the current Basic Pilot/"E-Verify" program, was treated as a matter of near consensus at the beginning of this past summer's immigration debate, and the Department of Homeland Security continues to promote it.
There are a lot of weaknesses in EEV. Foremost, such a system would be subject to a lot of document fraud, just like today's Form I-9. Requiring employers to collect these forms and check the documentation of new employees doesn't do much to control illegal immigration.
If this process were "strengthened" with a national EEV system, continuing document fraud would drive policymakers inexorably toward "strengthening" the identity cards used in the system. Indeed, the leading immigration bill this summer would have required every new hire in America to present a REAL ID-compliant national ID card. EEV requires a national ID.
This is fine by many people who are angered by illegal immigration. But the folks who want EEV and a national ID might want to be careful what they wish for.
A group called Mayors Against Illegal Guns recently sent a letter to all the major presidential candidates asking a detailed set of questions about their positions on gun control. Among them:
. . . Do you support a change in federal law to require that gun purchasers show Real ID-compliant identification by 2013?
I believe that REAL ID will not be implemented. In fact, the presence of REAL ID in the immigration bill is what killed it. But if EEV goes forward, it could bring REAL ID back from the dead.
With a national ID and a national infrastructure for regulating individual behavior in place, advocates will immediately seek to expand its uses - including to gun control. So it seems that those fervent opponents of illegal immigration who want a national EEV system have a choice: Will you give up your guns to get rid of illegal immigrants?