What Will the E-Verify Program Be Used to Surveil Next?
Wednesday June 5, 2019
E-Verify is the federal government’s attempt to create an electronic national identification system. It is capable of checking government databases to verify information—often including a photo—on every US resident. Right now, the system monitors only employment and is only mandatory in some states, ostensibly to deter illegal immigration, but nothing would prevent lawmakers from expanding E-Verify to monitor identity or legal status in any other domain and restrict access based on other criteria they want.
Numerous federal, state, and local laws already require people to identify themselves or prove their immigration status, and lawmakers continue to propose many additional laws. The more areas that E-Verify is used to monitor, the more it will create a digital record of Americans’ lives—a record that lawmakers can draw upon to add further requirements for access to jobs, health care, banks, gun sales, housing, and much else.
Once E-Verify becomes fully mandatory for employment nationwide, proponents will seek to use it to enforce other laws. In 2015, the GOP-controlled House Judiciary Committee even voted down an amendment to a mandatory E-Verify bill that would have banned using E-Verify for purposes other than employment. This is a harbinger that the E-Verify system, if mandated federally, could be used to monitor much more than just American’s employment choices. Congress would need only make a few tweaks to the system to make it serviceable for other goals beyond jobs.