- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 23, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Freedom-loving Americans should take the words of a pro-national-ID lobbyist with some skepticism. Such is the case with Janice Kephart’s Sunday Commentary column, “E-Verify ambush,” which extolled using driver’s license photos in the federal government’s E-Verify background-check program. This is the national ID system weaving itself together.

Miss Kephart praises E-Verify because it rejects the same percentage of workers as estimates have illegal aliens in the country. This is a foolish way to assess a system like this. In fact, some percentage of law-abiding American citizen workers are being denied employment because of E-Verify - but nobody knows how many. It’s an outrage that work in the United States increasingly must await the approval of federal bureaucrats.

A recent Congressional Budget Office cost estimate found that a five-year extension of the E-Verify program would cost more than half a billion dollars. That doesn’t include the private-sector expense and inefficiency of trying to turn business owners into immigration agents. The answer to the immigration problem is lining up the law with the economic needs of the country, not spending scarce taxpayer dollars building a national ID and surveillance system aimed at U.S. citizen workers.

JIM HARPER

Director of information policy studies

Cato Institute

Washington

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