Labor Does Not ♥ Employer Verification

by Mark Krikorian

In a follow-up post to the article he and Yuval Levin wrote on immigration (which I discuss on the home page), Reihan Salam uncharacteristically makes a mistake. He notes correctly that organized labor favors amnesty for current illegal aliens and is skeptical of guest-worker programs. But he then writes of Big Labor that “they are serious about reducing future unauthorized immigration flows,” and then mentions Daniel Costa of the union-friendly Economic Policy Institute, who has written on “the importance of building effective employer verification systems.” Reihan is confusing the work of the scholars at EPI — which is broadly sympathetic to the concerns of organized labor but is a serious outfit that does reputable work — with the policy positions of the labor-union hierarchy.

Not only is Big Labor not in favor of employment verification, an essential part of any effort at “reducing future unauthorized immigration flows,” it is officially opposed. The immigration resolution from the AFL-CIO’s convention last year calls for, among other things, “the repeal of employer  sanctions” (the ban on hiring illegal aliens). And there’s this paragraph specifically about the ”effective employer verification systems” that Costa rightly aspires to:

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the AFL-CIO rejects the use of electronic employment verification systems, such as E-verify which builds upon the flawed employer sanctions framework and pushes workers into an underground economy where workplace abuses are prevalent;

Note this does not say that the rollout of a verification system should await the completion of an amnesty, which would at least make some sense from their perspective. No — organized labor is opposed the very idea of people without permission to be in the United States being barred from employment. In this the AFL-CIO is of one mind with its immigration collaborators at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Cato Institute.

There is a potential labor-oriented perspective that would back amnesty but follow it with muscular efforts to turn off the future jobs magnet, as Reihan suggests. But the actual leadership of the labor movement in the U.S. has become post-American and decisively rejects that perspective, opting for effectively open borders and unlimited immigration.