The Corner

Immigration

Where’s E-Verify?

Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta (via Wikimedia Commons)

Illegal immigration isn’t just about criminals and the border — but that’s almost all we’ve been hearing about, whether at the national level or in the states, as has been the case leading up to today’s Georgia Republican-primary runoff.

Criminal deportations are essential, of course, and need to be increased. Sanctuary cities, shielding such criminals, have to be reined in. And the routine abuse of asylum, especially using children as a ticket into the U.S., has to be quashed.

But most illegal aliens are neither drunk-driving, dope-dealing rapists, nor bogus asylum seekers coached by immigration lawyers on how to game the system. They’re ordinary working stiffs, half of them arriving legally and then never leaving. They’re mainly coming to work, and that’s why weakening the magnet of jobs that attracts is essential both to the practice and the rhetoric of immigration control.

The president must have uttered/tweeted the words “E-Verify” at some point over the past three years, but no instance comes immediately to mind, certainly not a recent one. Even just a tweet or two would help keep the issue in the public discussion, providing for a more balanced immigration message and giving traction to ongoing efforts such as that of House Judiciary chairman Bob Goodlatte to get an E-Verify mandate passed.

The same holds true in today’s primary vote in Georgia. Both candidates — Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp — check a lot of the right boxes on immigration and don’t have any really obvious red flags. But, as Georgia’s steadfast immigration activist D.A. King has noted, the two candidates:

have mostly kept their immigration focus away from topics that may offend the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and narrowed to “sanctuary cities” and on illegal aliens who have already committed additional crimes in the United States — or “criminal illegal aliens.”

The main driver of illegal immigration is illegal employment, which was not mentioned in either campaign.

This matters because E-Verify is a state issue as well as a federal one. Georgia, one of the nation’s leading illegal-immigration states, does have an E-Verify mandate, but it could be further strengthened and in any case needs consistent oversight and audit.

State troopers combine efforts against the most egregious violators with more routine enforcement to increase compliance with traffic laws. The IRS goes after money launderers but also conducts unremarkable, everyday enforcement to deter run-of-the-mill tax evasion. Immigration is no different — deporting rapists is essential, but so is conventional enforcement against ordinary people who flout the law.

Mark Krikorian, a nationally recognized expert on immigration issues, has served as Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) since 1995.

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