The president has finally ordered that enrollment in the E-Verify system, which screens new hires for legal status, will be a condition of doing business with the federal government. Interestingly, the president didn’t issue a new Executive Order, but instead amended one from 1996, one that originally barred from federal contracts any business fined for the knowing employment of illegals. (We wrote about the original 10 years ago, here.) It was a political stunt at the height of the prior wave of immigration legislating in Congress to make it look like Clinton gave a rat’s patootie about illegal immigration; one way you knew it was based on politics was that Mike McCurry said “there’s no grounds to suggest that this is an executive order based on politics.” Also, nothing was done to implement the order.
But this time the rule has gone through OMB and seems to be the real thing. This is the kind of thing that, once implemented, will be hard for the McCain/Obama administration to undo, and so would appear to represent real progress. And maybe I’m just trying to make lemonade out of lemons, but it may actually be better right now than a congressional mandate for all employers to enroll in E-Verify — this way, more and more of the economy is nudged in the right direction (more than 10 percent of new hires nationwide are already checked), without too much pushback from the Chamber of Commerce-La Raza-ACLU Axis of Open Borders. This is similar to the way anti-discrimination began the process of becoming a labor standard — not through legislation, but through Executive Order 8802, which barred anyone receiving a war contract from discriminating based on race, creed, etc.