The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has a new paper out on electronic employment verification systems. Using government estimates, it finds that operating a nationwide worker background check system would cost $10 billion a year.
The Chamber is no opponent of requiring employers to check workers' immigration status -- I oppose the policy, preferring to live in a free country -- but the paper has a lot of information about the practical impediments to giving the federal government a say in every hiring decision.
It also gives the last word to my paper, Electronic Employment Eligibility: Franz Kafka's Solution to Illegal Immigration. In the paper, I discuss a method for verifying work eligibility under the current immigration law without creating a national identity system. It's possible, but highly unlikely. As I say in my paper:
Unless the federal government can accept the risk of error and is willing to commit to lasting employment eligibility rules, it will require any internal enforcement program to use databases and tracking rather than just issuing cards that prove eligibility to work and nothing more. It will push Americans toward a national ID and worker surveillance system.