Earlier this year, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) unwittingly introduced an advanced E-Verify program named “Self Check” that effectively validates claimed identity and authorization to work. Using well-established identity-screening processes embraced by financial institutions to establish identity, anyone can now make an online inquiry of E-Verify to determine if the system will authorize them to work.

In essence, persons making an online Self Check provide all information required on a Form I-9, and DHS acts as the certifying authority.

If this program could be integrated into existing hiring processes by having job applicants complete an online inquiry after a job offer is made, a Form I-9 and certification by the employer would not be necessary. A simple E-Verify notice of “Authorized Employment” to the employer would complete the process.

The cost savings associated with eliminating the Form I-9 process for large employers would be staggering — and, since the government would take over the Form I-9 process, the threat of Notices of Inspection, fines and raids would disappear for participating employers.

Ironically, employers are prohibited from integrating this system into their hiring process. In fact, they cannot even ask if a job applicant had conducted a Self Check, or suggest that they should do so.

Finally the government has introduced a system that employers have been demanding for decades and they won’t let them use it.

This nonsense provides for a new and interesting dynamic between ICE and employers. If enough employers demand access to the program, the government might have to give in and allow employers to voluntarily integrate the system into their hiring process. In this case, ICE would melt away.

But, what if the government continues to hold their position that employers cannot be trusted with the system and continues to withhold access? Would ICE credibly levy fines against any good faith employer who formally made a request to integrate the program into their hiring process and was denied?

It seems that ICE would struggle to rationalize denying employers the benefits of a rock-solid system that would deny the employment of unauthorized workers while fining them for technical violations and discriminatory practices associated with a system that does not stop the employment of unauthorized workers. An ICE meltdown?

Either way, it seems that introduction of this new program will diminish the threat of ICE interventions and fines against employers willing to challenge the government on this issue.