We in Human Resources (and Payroll) spend our lives trying to comply with a fragillion federal, state, and local employment laws. (Thoughts and prayers for my colleagues in California.) We do our best to conduct business in a manner which prevents employees and applicants from needing to become familiar with these myriad laws. We also get annoyed when new legislation is drafted by people who know fuck-nothing about how things work in our area of expertise. (Arizona Prop 206, anyone?)
More than a decade ago, in a state far away, I had an applicant who came in to apply for a job and was obviously ineligible to work in the United States. Before you call me a racist, I’ll tell you how I knew: He presented a Social Security Card which had clearly been printed on a light card stock paper using an inkjet printer. When one of your essential job functions is handling original documents, you know by look and feel when someone gives you a poorly crafted fake.
The other suspicious part of this was that he presented his documents when he came in to fill out the application. I’m not sure who decided to start telling people in the country illegally that they should present their documents at the beginning of the hiring process because that’s terrible advice. USCIS considers that a discriminatory hiring practice so we only ask for the documents listed on Page 3 of the I-9 once a candidate has been hired. If you want to blend in, wait until you’re asked for your documents. #protip
Anyway, I let the applicant know that I knew he was presenting falsified documents and we couldn’t proceed with the process. I’m not sure why but I kept the copies one of the guys had made of the fake docs and I pinned them to the corkboard in my office after documenting my observations. I just had a feeling I would see this gentleman again.
Two weeks later, the same guy came back with a completely different identity. I walked out to the lobby to greet him carrying the copies of the documents he had brought with him previously. This time, instead of an Arizona DL he had a Kansas DL with a completely different name but the same exact photo. That was the point at which my intelligence was completely insulted and my patience was gone.
I showed him the copies of the documents he used two weeks prior and literally pointed at the door. It was this incident which prompted me to establish a voluntary memorandum of understanding with E-Verify. In the beginning, there were several tentative non-confirmations and people who then disappeared when they were unable to resolve the issues with the SSA. Within a couple months, however, those tentative non-confirmations dropped WAY off. It didn’t take long for the news of our E-Verify participation to make the rounds.
That’s why I get so irritated when people complain about E-Verify. It’s one government program that actually works, both in practice and as a deterrent. There is absolutely room for improvement and I would love to join a panel to make that happen. Wouldn’t it be a fun plot twist if subject matter experts could effect change?