Damned if You Do, Damned if You Don't... Hell, Damned if You Try To Run Any Kind of Business at All

Arizona state law now requires that employers use the federal e-verify system to screen employees for legal immigrant status.  As I mentioned earlier, state law requires that I use this system in ways that are illegal under federal rules, at the risk of losing my business license.

Right now, I am going through a 6000 screen required tutorial that I have to endure before I can use a system that requires me to fill in about 3 blanks and hit enter.  (Of course, since this is a government system, the tutorial has already crashed twice three five times and I have had to restart it each time).  Somewhere in the midst of the training, I reach this admonition:

You may not discriminate against applicants and employees based upon
their citizenship or immigration status with respect to hiring, firing,
or recruitment or referral for a fee. This includes treating citizens
and non-citizens differently during the hiring process, such as
screening out non-citizens or not hiring lawful immigrants based upon
their immigration status.

WHAT?  Personally, I am all for living by this, but isn't this EXACTLY what the law is requiring me to do?  To discriminate against people, and ban my hiring of them, based on their immigration status?  How can I possibly keep my actions legal if I am required to discriminate based on citizenship status but I am also banned from discriminating in hiring based on citizenship status.  How Orwellian can we get?

To continue the Orwellian theme, as part of this law by the state of Arizona whose sole purpose is to restrict the classes of people I can and can't hire, I must display this poster:


Gee, I would have thought everyone in the world had the right to seek work and to contract with anyone they please for their labor, but in fact the only body taking away the right is the group that made this poster -- ie the government -- which requires that everyone have a special government license called citizenship or a green card before they can sell their labor to willing parties in this country.

Well I wondered, of course, why there were 176 (I counted) training screens just to enter name-social-DOB and hit return.  It turns out that by "agreeing" to join the e-Verify program, which I am forced to do by Arizona law, I have agreed to become a US immigration officer and to do their job for them (without compensation, of course).  Here is an example screen:

There are five options for resolving a case:

  • Resolved Authorized. Select this option when employment is authorized.
  • Resolved Unauthorized/Terminated. Select this option when
    employment is not authorized (SSA Final Nonconfirmation, DHS Employment
    Unauthorized, or DHS No Show), or when a Tentative Nonconfirmation
    response is uncontested AND employment is terminated.
  • Self Terminated. Select this option if an employee quits or
    is terminated for reasons unrelated to employment eligibility status
    while the verification query is in process.
  • Invalid Query. Select this option if a duplicate query was discovered after the query was sent or if a query was sent with incorrect data.
  • Employee Not Terminated. Select this option to notify DHS
    that you are not terminating an employee who received an SSA Final
    Nonconfirmation, DHS Employment Unauthorized, or DHS No Show response
    or who is not contesting a Tentative Nonconfirmation response.

Got that?

Every campaign year we get these debates with all of these stupid questions, including things like "do you know how much a gallon of milk costs" or "Who is the head of state of Mayanmar?"  I would just love to see someone ask Obama or Clinton "In the largest city of your state, can you name all of the city, county, state, and federal licenses, registrations, tax numbers, certifications and registrations you need to be able to legally run a business with 10 employees?"

Update: OMG I have to pass a 33-page test before it will let me use the system.  LOL.  We can't test government-employed teachers for subject competency but we can test employers on government bureaucratic procedures before we allow them to hire anyone.

Update #2:  Well, there is an hour and a half of my life I will never get back.  It would have gone much quicker if they had a server that wasn't powered by a hamster on a treadmill.  Every several pages the server would take a minute or more to respond with the next page, and every twenty pages it would crash my browser completely.  Incredibly, to continue the Orwell theme, there were several questions where a correct answer required one to confirm government propaganda about the program.  Stuff like "The e-Verify helps every employer by...."

I am now fully empowered to, as required by US and Arizona law, discriminate in hiring based on immigration status just so long as I am careful not to discriminate in hiring based on immigration status.


  1. tokay:

    I think the problem is in the definition of a legal immigrant. As far as the feds are concerned, legal immigrants have been authorized to stay and work in the country. Non-immigrants include tourists and students and are NOT generally authorized to work. Foreign students may have a special situation where they can work on-campus for less than 20 hours per week, otherwise they have to ask for permission from USCIS. If you hire a non-immigrant, i.e. tourist to work, you are definitely violating federal law. Hiring an illegal immigrant is the same thing since they are, by definition, not authorized to work in the country.

    So you are technically not discriminating against hiring an illegal immigrant because the feds don't authorize them to work to begin with. Legal immigrants who are authorized to work but are not permanent residents (or green card holders as they used to be called) include those here as refugee asylees and those who are in the process of changing or adjusting their status (e.g. just got married and trying to get permanent residency). They still have to get work authorization from USCIS, and without that, they are not allowed to work at all.

    As far as I can tell, there are no inconsistencies between the federal and state laws. The federal law is saying hire those who are legally authorized to work (because if they're not authorized, you both are violating more federal laws) but you can't discriminate against someone just because he's a foreigner, or he's not a permanent resident but just a student, or something to that effect. But illegal immigrants and tourists are still not authorized to work.

    By the way, I was a foreign student, went home, got married to an American citizen years later, went through the whole adjustment of status and getting the work permit process, and am now an American citizen. That's just my way of explaining why I'm a little familiar with the weird workings of the immigration bureaucracy.

  2. Greg Freeman:

    Wow, that's disgusting. Reminds me of the beginning of Gangs of New York when all the politicians were handing out freebies to all the Irish immigrants. Sometimes I'm amazed at how many people still manage to run their own businesses. When I hear about things like this, I wonder how many businesses would have existed if it weren't for all the silly laws, paperwork, and taxes that someone has to go through.

  3. Bob Longendyck:

    Just wait:
    Your PIN lapses after 1 year; you must wait until your PIN lapses to re-apply for an additional year. it takes about 2 weeks (currently) to receive your new PIN, during which time you cannot verify SS numbers (they don't answer the phones, so forget that.) Plan not to hire during that 2 week period.
    What a country.

  4. Jeff S.:

    If you did all that in only an hour and a half you are a deranged genius.

  5. Veracitor:

    I hope you realize that you're aiming much of your ire in the wrong direction. The E-Verify system and the required annoying "training" for it and all that stuff sucks on purpose, because the Administration does not want to help anyone comply with immigration laws. The Administration has intentionally screwed up the system to persuade businessmen like you to lobby for open borders. Now, of course, you don't need to be persuaded-- you already believe in open borders. But most people disagree with you so the Administration is doing its best to harass businesses who try to comply with the immigration laws, hoping they'll complain to their Congressthieves and get the immigration laws repealed.

    This is one case where it really is malice rather than incompetence at work.

  6. Bill Lever:

    Lol... The system sucks on purpose... who would guess these people were so skillful? It might force some rethinking of Coyote's Law right about apparent incompetence being actual incompetence.

    Highly focused and disciplined incomptetence to achieve political goals.

    The "virtual fence" that is outrageously expensive, now doesn't work and will need years to redesign and deploy seems like it came right out of the same playbook.

    Maybe there are a few tests we should demannd to ensure that someone has really done their best.

    1. Aircraft mechanics must go on the first flight after they fix an airplane.

    2. Bureaucrat fingers have to fill out any form or websites they design.

    3. Congressional representatives and senators must report to a townhall meeting in their district on about March 15 of each year and be locked in the room until they prepare 5 tax returns of constituents chosen at random (or better because of some real complication.)

  7. Noumenon:

    You have a really unique vantage point here. There are hardly any people who have time to run a business and blog. And there are hardly any people who realize how much trouble it is, either. Your experience is more persuasive to me than a lot of ideological posts. (speaking of persuasive, your photos of climate stations are the most persuasive thing I've seen on global warming)

    (I often disagree with you in case you don't remember)