On June 14 U.S. House Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) and other Republican members of Congress introduced a bill which will require all businesses to use E-Verify, a computer system that checks the work eligibility of new hires through the Social Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security databases.
“This is a shameless ruse to convince the public that our government is doing something to solve the immigration crisis, when in fact they’re passing the buck down to businesses and hard-working Americans,” said Helen Kim Ho, Executive Director of the Asian American Legal Advocacy Center (AALAC). “The truth is that E-Verify is not ready for primetime: it’s deeply flawed, will cripple small businesses and deplete our revenue base.”
The National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and several Latino organizations condemned the introduction of the “Legal Workforce Act” (H.R. 2164). “This legislation is another example of putting cheap political maneuvers ahead of the interests of American workers. It will do nothing to create jobs, it will place a burden on all job-seeking U.S. citizens and legal immigrants, and it will not fix our broken immigration system,” said Clarissa Martínez De Castro, NCLR Director of Immigration and National Campaigns.
In teleconference Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) send a message to President Obama that Latinos will not view this new measure as acceptable.
According to AALAC, an independent evaluation of E-Verify found that 54 percent of undocumented workers passed E-Verify checks. On the other hand, E-Verify will cause at least 770,000 legal workers, including American citizens, to lose their jobs. Two independent non-partisan government agencies — the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) — produced recent reports outlining the serious problems with implementing mandatory E-Verify and the potential $17.3 billion federal dollar loss over the next 10 years because of workers deciding to work in the underground market.
“This all-stick-with-no-carrot approach is going to shut small businesses down, increase prices for consumers, and lead to a loss of jobs and tax revenues,” said Ho, from AALAC. “Immigrant bashing has a cost. If we don’t push our elected officials to reform federal immigration laws, taxpayers will be left holding the bag,” said Ho.
Somos Republicans, the largest Latino Republican group in the nation, also posted a statement on their website saying that they will not support Congressman Lamar Smith’s national E-verify and enforcement only policies until he backs a reasonable comprehensive legal immigration plan that will bring out the 11 million good and hard working immigrants from the shadows of society.
NCLR also warns that evaluations of the E-verify system already in place and in use have consistently found that foreign-born U.S. citizens and legal immigrants would be significantly impacted by a national employment eligibility verification system because they are 30 times more likely than native-born workers to be wrongly flagged as ineligible to work.
“Workers cannot afford to lose jobs in this economy because of database errors or employer misuse of a verification system, and layering the mass expansion of this flawed program on top of our broken immigration laws will neither address concerns about immigration nor solve our unemployment problem. It is time to stop playing with the issue of immigration and with the needs of the American workforce,” NCLR’s Martínez De Castro concluded.