Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released its most Orwellian pronouncement yet. They plan to rollback responsible, reasonable workplace verification rules and replace them with unworkable, intrusive, expensive and likely no more effective verification rules.

I rarely subscribe conspiratorial motives, but it sure seems like they are trying to create the illusion of workplace enforcement … and then after President Obama pushes through a massive “amnesty” bill, they’ll just throw up their hands and say never mind. (Don’t believe they would do that…look at what they are trying to do with rolling back the implementation of REAL ID, a measure that was supposed to implement a recommendation of the 9/11 Commission to establish  national standards for driver’s licenses and other identity documents).   I have seen few more ill-considered actions on the part of the department (not excepting their support for repealing REAL ID).

Here is what the department announced, “Secretary Napolitano announced the Department’s intention to rescind the Social Security No-Match Rule, which has never been implemented and has been blocked by court order.” I have long argued that the department and Social Security Administration (SSA) should “use no-match letters as an immigration enforcement tool. In 2005, SSA mailed out about 10.5 million no-match letters, and by some estimates, upwards of 90 percent of these concerned workers who were not legally entitled to be in the United States. Under the Administration’s new no-match rules—now enjoined—employers not complying with no-match letters’ guidance would have faced fines.” This actually would be a good fit for Secretary Napolitano’s promise to focus on employers who are serial abusers of U.S. immigration law. As for the court’s interference, what the rules did was little more than consolidate existing DHS and SSA policies and do not create any new requirements. Rather, they provide guidance to responsible employers on reasonable measures to do the right thing: respect the rights of individual employees while providing a means to avoid unintentionally hiring unlawfully present persons. Dropping something just because of a little litigation is dumb public policy.

Instead, the department said it will use a “more modern and effective E-Verify system.” Well, electronic verification is great and the system has a lot of merits. But, first of all E-verify is not mandatory. So if the department goes this route it will be actually checking less not more workers! Second, Congressional opponents have already tried to kill the program three times. They could win next time. Then the government would have no workplace verification system.

Even if the administration could get Congress to mandate national mandatory E-Verify, that is hardly a panacea. The department can’t even implement US-VISIT which is supposed to electronically check everyone who leaves the country.

Finally, E-verify can still be beat with fraudulent documents and identity theft. Addressing these limitations would probably require biometric checks and a national identity card. Not sure Congress will sign up for that either.

The right answer is “no-matching” combined with a reasonable E-Verify program.