Why the Cato Institute Opposes E-Verify

By Ronald W. Mortensen on November 23, 2016

Why does the Cato Institute hate E-Verify? The short answer is because E-Verify threatens Cato's goal of open borders whereby anyone from anywhere in the world can freely enter the United States and take a job at whatever wage and for whatever benefits they are willing to work for.

When it comes to both legal and illegal immigration, Cato never puts America or American citizens first. Rather, Cato argues that immigration is nothing more than an "economic issue".


According to Alex Nowrasteh, the immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute's Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity:


Immigration is an economic issue. Fundamentally, it is about the movement of workers, entrepreneurs and consumers to locations where they can maximize the value of their labor, businesses and purchasing power.

But America's current immigration system is highly protectionist and restrictive.

Only a lightly regulated economy can determine efficient wages and the optimal allocation of workers to variously demanded tasks, but the government intercedes at every step of the immigration process.



In order for Cato's globalist vision to succeed, there can be no limitations on who American employers hire. This means that potential employees have to be able to freely enter the United States and to work in the United States regardless of their immigration status. If Cato had its way, the I-9 form, which verifies a person's eligibility to work in the United States, would be abolished. However, since that is not possible, Cato can still live with the I-9 since anyone can fraudulently fill it out and go to work without fear of any negative consequences.

Adding E-Verify to the mix is too much for Cato since it catches the vast majority of people lying and perjuring themselves on their I-9 forms. It turns a wink-wink system into a true verification system. So, in order to prevent the widespread use of E-Verify, Cato has to try to discredit it.

To do this, Cato argues that even though there is no direct cost for employers to use E-Verify, it still imposes an unreasonable burden due to the time spent on entering the information. However, employers currently have to spend considerable time collecting, examining, and verifying I-9 forms. In fact, entry of I-9 data directly into the I-9 form through a program that is linked to E-Verify eliminates much of the work associated with paper forms and reduces the double handling of I-9 data, so this argument doesn't hold water.

When E-Verify determines that someone is ineligible to work, the employer has to wait for the rejection to either be resolved or confirmed. Cato argues that this harms the employer. However, the brief period of uncertainty is a small price to pay to ensure the employer doesn't keep someone on the payroll who is committing multiple job-related felonies and avoids making payments to a fraudulently obtained Social Security number that will ultimately will take time to rectify once the error is discovered. Also, in many cases, new employees who have changed their names due to marriage or divorce are required to update their Social Security records when E-Verify discovers that their names and Social Security numbers do not match. This benefits these individuals because, unless they update their records, their Social Security contributions will not be properly credited to them.

Of course, just letting potential employees know that E-Verify is being used stops illegal aliens, deadbeat dads, and criminals of all kinds who routinely use fraudulently obtained documents from even applying since they know their forged documents will be rejected by E-Verify. Therefore, the number of rejections declines precipitously once the word gets out that an employer is using E-Verify.

It is important to recognize that E-Verify is an especially important child protection tool since illegal aliens routinely use the unlawfully obtained Social Security numbers of innocent American children. Once E-Verify is in place, adults can no longer use these fraudulently obtained Social Security numbers for employment purposes since all data elements — name, Social Security number, and date of birth — must match and an adult cannot use a child's birth date.

E-Verify also disrupts gang activities by preventing illegal aliens from getting jobs since, according to Jessica Vaughan, "illegal alien gangsters typically are employed by day in construction, auto repair, or other blue collar work, but moonlight at night in retail drug trafficking, theft, extortion, or mob-style violence."

However, the benefits realized when gang activity is disrupted by E-Verify are not included in Cato's analysis and neither are the benefits that accrue to Americans who will no longer be victims of illegal-alien-driven identity theft and other crimes.

Cato states that E-Verify will result in illegal aliens using the Social Security numbers of deceased persons. However, this is not as easy as it seems since the name, gender, date of birth, and Social Security number all have to match. Thus, an illegal alien has to find a deceased person's information that matches his/her age and gender and then adopt the full name of the deceased person. In addition, the use of deceased persons' Social Security numbers would quickly end if the federal government would routinely arrest and prosecute people known to be using these numbers.

Cato attempts to give the impression that there are massive problems with E-Verify when it says that "54 percent of unauthorized workers were incorrectly found to be work authorized by E-Verify." The fact is that a 2010 study found that only 3.3 percent of workers run through E-Verify were ineligible for work and that 54 percent of this 3.3 percent, or 1.8 percent, were eventually missed by E-Verify because they were likely using the total identity of another person. What other federal program has only a 1.8 percent error rate? And an error rate, mind you, that results from the system not yet being tight enough, rather than its mistakenly denying jobs to lawful workers, of which there has been no evidence.

Cato says that an E-Verify bill won't pass Congress. However, this was based on the assumption that Trump would not be elected president. Since Trump supports E-Verify and is now the president elect, this assumption is no longer valid. In addition, once the public realizes that E-Verify puts Americans first; effectively stops virtually all employment-related identity theft, which impacts millions of American men, women, and children; and helps restore the middle-class, they will reward employers who use E-Verify by frequenting their businesses.

Cato further argues that the mandatory use of E-Verify will not work because employers will not respect the law. While this may have been the case under a Democrat or establishment Republican administration, it won't be so under a Trump administration where employers will either obey the law or face the consequences. In addition, once a critical mass of employers starts using E-Verify, they will pressure other employers to use the system as well. If certain employers still refuse to comply, law-abiding employers will demand that the government enforce the law in order to eliminate the competitive advantage that those not using E-Verify will have by hiring cheap, illegal labor.

Cato's assertion that E-Verify won't work and will be abandoned is also based on politics as usual, where the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Cato, and illegal immigrant advocates use their power to make E-Verify fail. However, as the Washington swamp is drained and an Americans-first policy is implemented, their power will be greatly diminished.

Finally, as the election shows, Americans see illegal immigration for the destructive force that it is rather than as a simple economic issue. In the end, while Cato may continue to rail against E-Verify, the American people will strongly support its mandatory use and employers who truly care about their fellow Americans will also embrace it.

Topics: E-Verify