Congressional Push for Mandatory E-Verify Continues

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

February 28, 2011
Last week, Rep. John Carter (R-Texas) introduced bi-partisan legislation that would require all U.S. employers to use E-Verify for both new hires and existing employees. The Jobs Recovery by Ensuring a Legal American Workforce Act of 2011 (H.R. 800) has three original co-sponsors, including two Democrats from North Carolina, Reps. Mike McIntyre and Heath Shuler as well as Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas). What’s significant about Carter’s proposed legislation is that it meaningfully alters the time frame for using the online program. As currently written, E-Verify requires employers to file their employees I-9 information within three business days of hire. If not filed within the designated period, then the employer must explain why. Among the acceptable reasons are technical Internet problems or a delay in receiving social security numbers. Carter’s E-LAW Act would require mandatory E-Verify within one year for employers with at least 250 employees and all federal government contractors, 540 days for employers with at least 100 employees, but fewer than 250 and two years for all other employers. Under Carter’s bill, penalties would increase for businesses that fail to comply with the E-Verify mandate. Violators would face fines of at least $2,500 for each illegal alien they employ and could face fines as high as $50,000 for the third and subsequent offenses. Despite President Obama’s 2008 campaign pledge to create 3 million new jobs and the obvious help that E-verify would be in assuring that those jobs go to American citizens or legally authorized immigrants, powerful forces lobby against the program. According to Tyler Moran of the National Immigration Law Center, "Requiring businesses to enroll in E-Verify could only slow the influx of money and jobs into the economy. It is going to delay the stimulus. It doesn't belong here." But in her statement, Moran errs in several places. Her most egregious misrepresentation is that employers will have to spend considerable time in E-Verify implementation. That’s wrong - by using only one staff person for only a few hours, an entire company can complete its E-Verify enrollment. And, of course, the program is free. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, another longtime supporter of hiring illegal aliens, joins immigration lawyers in its criticism of E-Verify. In 2008, the Chamber issued a 27-page report calling E-Verify "misguided, premature and unwarranted," and claiming that it would cost citizens jobs. Despite no evidence to date that citizens have lost jobs, the Chamber refuses to modify its objections. Concerned employers who want to do the right thing by American workers don’t need Congressional legislation to get on board. Those committed to maintaining a legal workforce can and should voluntarily enroll today. Employers should remember that E-Verify is easy, free, fast and just a tick under 100 percent reliable.
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