Dear Lawmakers: Bite Me

The holidays are over. It’s back to work – and time to comply with new state laws.

As of yesterday (1/1/08) Tennessee employers that knowingly hire illegal immigrants or fail to adequately check the status of illegal immigrants could lose their business license. Employers do not violate the new law if they use the federal electronic work authorization verification service to verify the employment status of workers within 14 days of their start date. Moreover, employers do not violate the law if they obtain the worker’s lawful resident verification information in a timely manner (even if this information is later determined to be false).

The law suspends an employer’s license until the employer corrects the violation. Further violations occurring within three years of the first suspension will result in a year-long license suspension. (For a copy of the law, visit http://tennessee.gov/sos/acts/105/pub/pc0529.pdf.)

Co-sponsor of the legislation, Rep. John Hood (D-Murfreesboro) compares the bill to a law that allows police officers to pull over motorists who aren’t wearing their seat belts. Hood states, “The idea wasn’t to catch anybody not wearing their seat belt. It was hopefully to get everybody in the mindset, ‘Hey, I need to wear a seat belt to save my life’.”

Although participation in the E-Verify program isn’t specifically required under the new law, I suspect it will be at some point. And employers have been advised not to wait until the last minute to register in the system because, you know, the system sucks. (Sucks being an advanced technological term meaning system data does not meet accuracy standards set by Congress. Furthermore, E-Verify cannot always determine if the applicant’s name and Social Security number are valid and therefore sends employers a “tentative nonconfirmation” message. Employers must inform the applicant, who has eight business days to dispute findings. If the employee contests, the Social Security Administration or DHS must determine by manual review. These reviews can be performed by government-trained monkeys kept in the basement of DHS headquarters. Some of the monkeys are illiterate – so, there’s a backlog and results take time.)

However, because the government considers the Electronic Employment Eligibility Verification Program “adequate” we decided to register.

During this process, it occurred to me that there’s a great deal of difference between putting on your seatbelt and using the E-Verify system.

For instance, I am not required to register online with the government in order to wear my seat belt. When attempting to fasten my seat belt, I do not have to wait for the government to process my seat belt information. I am not informed that my seatbelt may or may not work: please report to a Seat Belt Administration office to appeal the tentative finding.

Seat belts work like this “pull, click.”

The E-Verify program works a bit differently.

You must first gather company information for registration process. Locate E-Verify Online Registration page. Read E-Verify manual. Answer questions regarding E-Verify access types. Confirm this is the access type you’ve requested. Get blank screen. Reload/Refresh. Answer questions again. Repeat process two more times while simultaneously calling Senator Bill Ketron unflattering names.

Read Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreement. Note that SSA and DHS agrees to safeguard the information provided by the Employer through the E-Verify program procedures, and to limit access to such information, as is appropriate by law. Laugh out loud.

Note that the SSA and DHS have only eight basic responsibilities while Employers have 15 + sections and subsections. Note that this wasn’t your bright idea nor is it your job to enforce immigration laws.

Note the portion where DHS is required to offer support for employers. Note the absence of any contact information for said support. Assume this must be some kind of telepathic top-secret government type support.

Note that DHS agrees to provide confirmation or tentative nonconfirmation of employees’ employment eligibility within 3 Federal Government work days of the initial inquiry – laugh again. Notice that pre-screening is prohibited. Therefore, you must employ a worker in order to legally check their status – and during this time you agree not to take any adverse action against an employee based upon the employee’s employment eligibility status while SSA or DHS is processing the verification request because initial inability of the SSA or DHS automated verification to verify work authorization, a tentative nonconfirmation,or the finding of a photo non-match, does not mean, and should not be interpreted as, an indication that the employee is not work authorized – blah, blah, blah.

Ask yourself what newly revised Department of Homeland Security I-9 form? As published in the Federal Register? Inform the computer screen you don’t read the f-ing Federal Register.
Proceed while continuing to mutter to self causing current employees to doubt sanity. Look at current employees and scream “WHAT!?”

Complete registration information fields. Ponder upon wisdom of adding Federal Identification Number to system. Add anyway. Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait. Tap foot. Get more coffee. Return to computer. Wait.

Open new window to browse for a “Support Open Borders” bumper sticker or t-shirt to buy.

Re-read TN state law while you wait. Ponder upon the meaning of this: municipal and county law enforcement officers shall be designated from local law enforcement agencies who, by written designation and recommendation of a commanding officer, shall be trained pursuant to such memorandum of understanding. Funding for such training shall be provided pursuant to the federal Homeland Security Appropriation Act of 2006, Public Law 109-90 or subsequent federal funding sources. Imagine and shudder.

Check E-Verify Screen. Nothing.

Consider fact that employer can take no action against employee until secondary verification by SSA or DHS has been completed by the trained monkeys – at which time problem must be corrected or employer will be in violation of state law.

Ask yourself if there’s a point to all of this.

Decide – no, there definitely isn’t. Opt to stick with old method of verifying employment eligibility (at least for now): vowing to report any SS cards made of green construction paper.

Close window.

Go outside.

Pull Click.

Have Lunch.

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