Business Lobby Supports Clearing the Path for Fraud and Unlawful Employment, FAIR Objects
Among many flexibilities introduced in the name of combatting COVID-19 was a weakening of employment eligibility verification requirements. First announced in March 2020, the policy allowed those adopting remote work postures to forego physical examination of documents required by USCIS Form I-9, and instead allow them to view scanned copies on electronic devices. These documents might include a passport, Green Card, or employment authorization document, to name a few. Checking them is essential to ensuring illegal aliens are not undercutting American workers. But spotting forgery, already hard enough when examining original documents, is nigh impossible over electronic media.
Like many flexibilities, this has been repeatedly extended with the “public health emergency,” even though Biden said in September that “the pandemic is over.” In August, the federal government proposed a rule formalizing authority for the Secretary of Homeland Security to institute flexibilities, alternatives, and pilot programs for employers with respect to I-9 verification – all but cementing a temporary policy in response to the pandemic. FAIR firmly opposes the proposed rule and submitted a detailed explanation at the end of the 60-day public notice-and-comment period. Meanwhile, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – a steadfast ally of big businesses reliant on cheap foreign labor – is an enthusiastic supporter.
The Chamber’s comment on the proposed rule brazenly asserts that virtual methods “surpass” the level of security offered by physical examination, which they would have us believe is “based upon outdated assumptions” about the best way to verify identity. Their reasoning hinges on the fact that the internet is no longer “novel” and images aren’t as blurry or pixelated anymore. Yet it doesn’t matter how high-definition an image is if forgery can only be detected by physically touching the document.
Even though technologies to detect forgery have advanced, so, too, have forgers’ methods to evade them. They are increasingly able to perfectly replicate a document’s appearance, but may fail to conceal slight textural differences that would only reveal themselves upon physical examination. This is why regulations required – at least before the Biden administration hid behind COVID to push an agenda – that an employer “physically examine” original documents to establish identity and employment authorization. The Chamber now says the government should either remove any reference to “physical examinations” or else change the definition to allow “video conferencing as a tool to ‘physically examine’ the documents.” They should get along swimmingly with the Biden administration, which pursued a similar strategy by insisting there would be no recession, then simply changing the definition of “recession” when we entered one.
Perhaps the most revealing line in the Chamber’s comment comes in their conclusion, where they appeal to the need for “businesses to onboard or maintain desperately needed workers in a timely fashion.” Reading between the lines, we see their thirst for abundant low-skill, low-wage, compliant, and easily manipulated foreign labor. It should come as no surprise that the Chamber has consistently been one of the biggest cheerleaders for guest worker programs such as the H-1B and H-2B visas, which are rife with waste, fraud, and abuse. Unlike the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, FAIR has taken a markedly different tack with its comment on the proposed rule: protecting American workers from illegal foreign labor.