A Philosopher's Blog

(Re)Proving I’m an American

Posted in Law, Politics, Universities & Colleges by Michael LaBossiere on June 22, 2011
Seal of the United States Department of Homela...

Making sure your philosophy professor is here legally.

Yesterday I had to go prove that I am an American citizen and not here illegally. In case you are wondering, I was born here. My parents were born here. In fact, my family traces directly back to the Mayflower (and before) and I even have documentation showing I am descended from people who fought in the American revolution.  In short, I am as American as fortune cookies.

You might be wondering why I had to do this. I was told by the HR department that because of something Rick Scott (our “small government” governor) had decided, I would be required to turn in an I-9 form. Mind you, I had to establish my American citizenship when I was hired as an adjunct and then, as I recall, when I was hired into a normal line. I also have had to establish my credentials at various times for various reasons, so my status as an American citizen should have been well established. Apparently, however, this was not enough. Fortunately, when Homeland Security came into being, I wisely took the step of renewing my passport. As such, I was able to establish that I am, in fact, an American citizen. The fact that I have to use my passport to show that I am an American citizen illustrates that the bureaucracy needs to be streamlined. After all, the government folks who need to know if I am an American, should be able to just confirm that via my passport data.  Of course, bureaucracy is like a virus: it  is mainly all about making more of itself.

I do, of course, understand the need to check on the legal status of employees. People who are here illegally should not be allowed to remain and one way of finding such people and also encouraging them to leave voluntarily is to require employers to verify their status. However, once this status is established, it seems somewhat unreasonable to require that it be established again unless, of course, there are some grounds for suspecting that a person engaged in duplicity or their status somehow changed. After all, this process adds to the paperwork that must be done and also involves governmental intrusion. True, it is fairly minor. All I had to do was get the form, complete it, get my passport, copy my passport, drive to the university, have the office manager complete her part of the form and then head home (because the budget cuts mean that I am not teaching this summer). The documents then have to be passed on to HR, processed, and then passed on to the rest of the bureaucracy. I assume it eventually ends up on Obama’s desk.

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6 Responses

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  1. guesswho? said, on June 22, 2011 at 10:11 am

    Nearly ten years have passed since 9/11.
    The fear that generated first confusion then a rapidly growing security bureaucracy has been replaced by a kind of angry complacency on the part of the populace and an ever more rampant bureaucracy..

    Streamline bureaucracy? First streamline the population. Would you agree that bureaucracy grows with the population and its real and imagined needs? It’s probably safe to say that the fact that our bureaucracy has ballooned since 1789 has something to do with the fact that the population back then was around 4 million. And it likely hasn’t helped that our land mass has increased.

    Two modest solutions, then would be to 1/Cut loose Alaska and Texas and any other state that wishes to secede. The loss in energy resources would be minor compared to the gains from government streamlining . . . perhaps. 2/ Make a clear distinction between real and imagined needs. Eliminate imagined needs. There are some Republicans who can do that once they’re in office. They’re hard-nosed men pragmatic men and women, yet they possess an ideology set in cement.. . .

    LaBossiere, eh? Part of your problem may be that Americans hate the French and their fries almost as much as they despise Muslims. And people of all nationalities too frequently make great leaps, from names, and colors, etc, to classifications. You’re likely on lists you don’t know exist because of your name. But you could be a Smith. William Smith. A nobody. An everybody. How sad that is.

    • frk said, on June 22, 2011 at 10:30 am

      Let me guess. That would be me, right?

      Or am I just pullin’ my chain?

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on June 22, 2011 at 5:13 pm

      Well, I can understand disliking the French. My French ancestors left for a reason.

  2. T. J. Babson said, on June 22, 2011 at 11:47 am

    After a little Googling I found this:


    As the Obama Administration, the courts and states across the country tangle with immigration issues the federal E-Verify system has received a great deal of ink over the past few months. Miami employment eligibility verification attorneys are aware that use of the E-Verify system generally remains voluntary for businesses in Florida. Governor Scott, however, has made use of E-Verify mandatory for government employers within the state.

    The federal government has had the authority to ensure that companies are verifying employment eligibility since 1986 under the I-9 requirements. The issue of I-9 compliance for private businesses is slowly emerging in the national news. Many businesses are unaware that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reportedly issued a memorandum in 2009 directing its agents to target employers who have not properly filled out I-9 forms.

    ICE has had the authority to conduct audits of businesses under federal law dating back to 1986. The 2009 memorandum indicates ICE’s intention of cracking down on businesses that are not up to date in their I-9 compliance.

    Last year, after the reported memorandum was issued, ICE, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, audited more than 2,600 businesses. Sources say the agency is well on its way this year to surpassing last year’s number of audits.

    ICE says more than 99 percent of employers have errors in their I-9 forms. The agency says the average individual I-9 form has five errors. ICE has levied a number of sanction and heavy fines against employers related to I-9 compliance issues.

    • frk said, on June 22, 2011 at 4:30 pm

      Further Googling under I-9 history and I-9 compliance proviides some interesting info: First, there’s has been, from the beginning, real money to be made by immigration lawyers. Why does that shock me? Well, this law and its offspring are the product of actions of both parties. But the Democrats are the party of lawyers. . . I’ve heard,

      The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 was authored and co-sponsored by a Democrat and a Republican respectively, passed the two House and Senate with bipartisan room to spare, and was signed by Ronald Reagan.

      It would seem that, like so much legislation, the ’86 law was created with good (and in this case bi-partisan) intentions. But we’re still dealing unsuccessfully with the immigration problem? Like so many such acts of Congress the end product (what we’re seeing now) shows that 1/ Those intentions were condemned to lose to the forces of reality. a/Some aspects of the law were apparently shoddily crafted, failing to take into account how the law as written was going to function in the real world. b/ Even the better parts of the law were poorly enforced. Think about any law you agree with. Would you disagree with me when I shout “If you’re going t have a law, then, dammit, enforce it and enforce it consistently..” c/Then there are the pressures that lead a business, large or small, to fudge on its legal responsibilities–esp. when it has every reason to believe there will be no consequences. Not all of the above problems are problems of the bureaucracy.

      I-9, it would seem, bears little resemblance to the original legislation. Along the line, It’s received a Homeland Security graft. But it seems it is being enforced. Is it too late to become an immigration lawyer?

      More about this current aspect of the law:

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