Friday, April 25th, 2008 | Author:

A report has been released to AP that evaluated Homeland Security’s plan to require employers to fire employees who can’t resolve mismatches between their name and social security number. The focus, of course, is on money. Based on Homeland Security’s own numbers, the report estimates this plan will cost employers $1 billion a year in administrative costs, a healthy chunk of change.

More staggering, it estimates lost wages between $8 billion and $37 billion, based again on Homeland Security’s own numbers of 37,000 to 137,000 people unable to get work. If you’re a hardnose, you might say, “So what? If the illegals can’t work, maybe they’ll go back home.” But these numbers, my friends, are not about illegal workers. They are about the 2% of legal workers they estimate would be unable to get errors corrected.

To me, that is mind-numbing. Two out of a hundred people, here legally, willing to work, won’t be able to support their families because we build in bureaucratic ineptitude? Up to 137,000 people? And this is acceptable?

Would it be acceptable if 2 of every 100 people were tossed in jail because the IRS made a mistake on their tax returns? Would it be acceptable if 2 of every 100 people had their home seized because the local tax authority didn’t credit their property tax payments?

Have you ever been caught in the bureaucratic nightmare of government when a mistake has been made? I have. When my daughter was born, I laid in a hospital bed and told them what my name was to put on my daughter’s birth certificate. Sometime between then and when I received her birth certificate in the mail six weeks later, they got my middle initial wrong. Not a major issue, but this was my first child and I wanted it right.

I called the hospital and they directed me to the proper state of New York department. I called Albany. They directed me to the local county office. I called the county. They said I needed to bring in my birth certificate, fill out sixteen tons of forms, and then they could correct my daughter’s birth certificate. It never made any sense to me that I could lay in a hospital bed and say anything I wanted, but to change it, they needed to see my birth certificate. But I went along.

When I got to the county office, I showed them all the papers and they grudgingly acknowledged that I had provided what they wanted. They scooped it all up and said, “Six weeks.” I said, “Wait, I want my birth certificate back.” They said, “We have to send it to Albany with the paperwork.” I said, “You told me you just needed to see it. Can’t you tell Albany that you saw it?” They wouldn’t budge, of course, saying I would get it back with my daughter’s new certificate.

The bottom line to this story? I never got my birth certificate back. Thirty-plus years later, it still languishes someplace in a dusty file in Albany. Meanwhile, I had to go to another government office and pay for another copy of my own birth certificate – after giving them sixteen more tons of paperwork.

All this cost me a little money, a lot of time, and serious amounts of aggravation. It did not, however, take away my right to work. I did not have to decide between welfare, working illegally, or burglary in order to feed my family.

The last I knew, the US Bill of Rights says that the federal government could not deprive any person of the right to life, liberty, or property, which includes the right to work, without due process of law. It does not say that 2% of people may be deprived because of bureaucratic ineptitude.

The Bush administration has trampled way too many of our rights since 9/11. This is one more that simply goes too far.

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